Tuesday 29 September 2015

Beast by Mark Carver and Michael Anatra


MFEC-19, aka "The Beast," is an offshore oil platform behemoth in the Pacific Northwest. Kyle Hamilton, an experienced derrickhand who has survived a brush with death, is its newest resident. Forced back into the drilling world to pay for his wife's cancer treatment, Kyle is thrilled and terrified to be part of the team that keeps the monster in check.

But the Beast bows to no man.

One slip, one mistake, and hell breaks loose above the storm-swept water. Kyle and his crew find themselves in the fiery jaws of death as the Beast thrashes itself apart, unleashing an industrial cataclysm unlike anything the world has ever seen. Using his quick wits, hoping for good luck, and praying for a miracle, Kyle tries desperately to save himself and those around him, but the will to survive comes with heavy costs.

And the Beast will show no mercy.

The Guru's Review: 

I received an advanced reader's copy of this latest work from Mark Carver at my request.

This is only the second book I have read of his and I must say, I am very impressed with this latest offering. This book is very different to Carver's other works notably the Apollyon Trilogy which is very dark, supernatural and very edgy Christian speculative based.

The reader will hit the road running in this novel. Carver grabs your attention and does not let go. The action starts with the main character, Kyle Hamilton, working on an oil rig when something explodes and he is injured. Then the plot shifts to him being rehabilitated from his injuries 9 months later and returning to work as a derrickhand on a new state of the art rig, MFEC-19, nicknamed Beast, named due to its massive size, 
MFEC-19 was the largest semi-submersible rig in the world. By far. With 6,000 horsepower and the capability of drilling extended-reach wells over 60,000 feet - 20,000 feet deeper that its closest competitor - it was the largest of its kind.
Carver has structured this novel with Kyle as main character and the story revolving around him. Through the various plot lines involving Kyle, Carver describes what an oil rig does, specifically how the Beast differs from others and how it works in sufficient detail so as to not lose the reader. This side of it is very interesting reading and works well being interspersed throughout the novel in response to various events where an explanation is required.  

One of the successes for me in this novel is the character development, especially of the members of Kyle's crew. I can see that this has been portrayed as based on what oil rig employees are like as the success of this novel depends on it being depicted as it is in real life. When Kyle introduces himself to these members, the readers discovers the crew dynamics, who the dominant ones are, who are the dysfunctional ones etc. This dynamic is done very well and you can feel the suspicion, the hostility, the wariness of some of them toward Kyle and even for Kyle as he realises that as the new kid on the block, he has to tread carefully, and slowly edge his way into the team and win them over in accepting him. 

However, the Beast has other plans for him. When things start to go pear shaped it is Kyle's training, past experience and leadership qualities that kick in and force this issue. It is interesting from this point on how the crew dynamics are tested and fall apart as it becomes each man for himself to survive this holocaust. However, Kyle does not subscribe to this instinct in its entirety and helps those along the way. It is due to this that he teams up with Oscar and others but in the end, it turns out to be just the two of them. Kyle has another motivation to survive; he needs this job to pay for his wife's cancer treatment. This becomes forefront in his mind during the ordeal as the Beast undergoes further breakdown threatening all human life. Apart from his survival instinct, Kyle keeps saying to himself, 
Get home to your girls.
Having this interspersed throughout the novel in strategic times, usually when he is thrust into another close to being killed situation, adds to the roller coaster ride that this novel has now developed into. Again, Carver has created the environment of this disaster with enough adrenaline to cause the strongest reader to become anxious, breathless and almost sweating in anticipation of what is to happen next. I found myself thinking, will Kyle and Oscar survive? I egged them on totally engrossed and engaged and in the process nearly missed my lunch break finish time and my train destination. I kept thinking was the next paragraph going to describe the last explosion that puts the Beast out of its misery and allows the ocean to claim another victory over man's attempt at dominating it?

Carver is very successful at transporting the reader to this rig and its environment. I felt that I was on this rig with Kyle, experienced what he felt, his anxiety, his fear, his survival instinct and determination to make it out to be with his family again. I could smell the burning oil, and feel the intense heat. I felt for Kyle and Oscar as the faced insurmountable odds in trying to keep at least one step ahead of this catastrophe that was determined to claim them. I shamefully admit that I was glad that one character's demise turned out the way it did as he was depicted as being quite a dysfunctional character after a major event in this life years ago and he remained on a downward spiral with negative effects on all Kyle's crew and contributed to this catastrophe. 

One thing I must comment on is the successful team that Carver and Anatra make. Michael Anatra is not an author, but has worked in oilfields since he was in high school and now oversees the day to day maintenance operations of forty-seven rigs worldwide. Quite an impressive career and success in this field and more than qualified to contribute to the content of this novel. Carver states that he has not met Anatra in person; their only communication being via email! Based on this collaboration, readers can expect the detail and realism that is in this novel to be of a high degree and makes it all the more realistic and believable. I feel, Anatra would have contributed to the type of characters in this novel and their expression of cuss words, crude sayings and banter that these men express towards each other which is typical of this breed of employee. I can relate to this as I have worked in an abattoir and these rig workers are very similar to these abattoir workers, the most rugged, down to earth, toughest, and where necessary, the most violent, foul-mouthed, arrogant men yet who also have the most kindest and loyal hearts when they need to. 

Spiritually, this novel shines towards the end when this disastrous, life threatening situation causes Oscar to re-evaluate his life and confront his regrets specifically the fractured relationship he has with his daughter. Kyle, by his Christian witness to Oscar throughout the novel provides very appropriate God given counsel and this provokes Oscar into considering that if he gets out of this holocaust, he would seek our his daughter and restore their relationship. In the process, God wins out in more ways than one as Oscar does more than just restore his relationship with his daughter. It really does end this story well. It would need to as this roller coaster ride has to end and what better way than this with all loose ends tied up in one satisfying package?

Highly Recommended.


  1. Replies
    1. Adam, it is a great read and very realistic. I don't know your reading preferences very well, but you should enjoy it


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