Analysis, Reading, Reviews

Book Review x2: Do Not Resuscitate & Destiny Unknown

Two book reviews in one!

Do Not Resuscitate is a near-future scifi-lite story of family conflict, life, death, relationships, and the mystery of what is in those damned coolers. It’s funny and insightful and comparable to Vonnegut. Available here:…

The Maiden Voyage of the Destiny Unknown is a silly scifi romp as a group of people cloistered on a starship experience all the conflict and drama one might expect when people are forced into close proximity. Destiny is a light and humorous story. Available here:…

In this video I’m going to do a double review: Two books by the same author:
The Maiden Voyage of The Destiny Unknown
Do Not Resuscitate
both by Nicholas Ponticello

Their experience is similar to that of a child who has just squashed a bug for the first time-the child understands she has killed the poor bug, but she still thinks she can undo it somehow. That’s how humans experience the universe.

The Maiden Voyage of The Destiny Unknown

Marilee, of course, suggested my mother go back to school.
“What for?” my mother said. “So I can become a hotshot computer scientist and run around the office on a skateboard, throwing computers down stairs?” She had just seen a documentary on PBS about the young people in the social networking industry.

Do Not Resuscitate

Destiny Unknown is set in the ridiculously far future, but don’t let it bother you, everything about human society is pretty much the same as today. It’s the story of an ill-fated starship with a mixed nuts crew of flawed people and just a few animals. The tone is light, the story sprinkled with playful humor.

Do Not Resuscitate is a story about the near-future with mild, nearly ignorable science fiction elements. Resuscitate is a much more focused story, following a single main character, though in parallel story lines, one taking place in the character’s youth and the other in his relatively old age. The story is also littered with wry insights and Vonnegut-esque comedic elements.

Both stories explore themes of naturally differing desires, opinions, and anxieties creating friction within families, yet it’s approached through a lighthearted and humorous lens.

In Do Not Resuscitate, the family is literally the blood and marriage relations of the protagonist. Destiny Unknown is about a group of unrelated people crammed into close proximity on a starship for a number of years, which makes them as much family as anyone. Both books are light, easy reading.

I had this conversation with my partner at one point about how nice it would be to have a pleasant and kind genre that has fun without conflict, without stressful drama, something to read as a way to unwind in the evening.

Ideally the book would literally be about the daily lives of Hobbits who never left the shire, were never disturbed by wizards or Nazgul, and whose greatest concern was avoiding the Sacksville-Bagginses.

The best thing that has met our needs in that regard are books for kids like the Wayside School series by Louis Sachar, but even those don’t quite hit the target.

Destiny Unknown comes close though. There IS conflict in the book, but it’s never much to worry about. And, in fact, I think there are further similarities to children’s books. Destiny Unknown has silly potty humor, and it flirts with goofy Douglas Adams-type situations, but it also veers into much more adult stuff, a lot of sex in particular, which makes it not really suitable for children.

I ended up wanting a more consistent tone and more of a focus on particular characters rather than bouncing around so much. Oh, and more about the animals!

Overall it’s a pleasant and easy read requiring only a suspension of disbelief to enjoy.

I liked Do Not Resuscitate a lot more though. I thought it was funnier and I connected with the protagonist because we’re basically the same age. (I was born in the mid 80s). Resuscitate also does a great job making the reader curious about what is in these coolers and why.

The author understands how to handle a secret MacGuffin. The answer, the reveal is less important than the character’s behavior toward the MacGuffin. Do they open the box immediately? agonize? peek? accept blissful ignorance? fight to keep it secret?
This will be my one author tip for this video: MacGuffins are not interesting for what they contain, they are interesting for how the characters relate to and interact with them.

Other readers have compared Do Not Resuscitate to Vonnegut and I think there’s definitely truth in that comparison. If you love the humor and observations about human foibles and relationships in books like Cats Cradle, but don’t want to be as depressed as Cats Cradle makes you, then you should read Do Not Resuscitate.

If somebody had asked me to subvert the government and board a plane to another territory under a name that did not belong to me to retrieve a package that did not belong to me, which contained God knows what, I would have, in theory, refused on moral grounds.
In theory.

Do Not Resuscitate

1 thought on “Book Review x2: Do Not Resuscitate & Destiny Unknown”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s