Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#1
Finished Inish Carraig by our own Jo Zebedee. Reading it was like running down a hill and you can't stop or slow down and the book is like that all the way to the end. Strong characterizations, and it has a dark, somber tone throughout, and appropriately so as it's a very personal account of survival after alien invasion and devastation by not one but two advanced and aggressive alien races. This book is recommended to all readers who like a finely crafted original and exciting story, not just sci-fi fans. You can even hear the irish brogue of the characters, they are so finely wrought. I enjoyed her prose which was clear and precise and often quite clever, giving the impression of her being an author with a lot of experience rather than a fairly new bright star in the sci-fi universe.
 
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TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
I'll copy what I posted in the SF thread here ...

Just read the last page of Inish Carraig by our very own @jo zebedee, and thoroughly enjoyed it. A gritty post apocalyptic setting following the story of John, an Irish lad struggling to survive (and provide for his younger siblings) in the aftermath of an alien invasion that puts the human race (and John) firmly in the midst of a galactic war playing out in our own backyard. Really well written believable characters, a fast paced plot that kept the pages turning, smatterings of humour which really stood out against the joy deprived setting, but an ending which I would've liked to have been strung out just a little bit longer. 8/10.
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#3
Thank you both so much. I can't tell you how lovely it was to sign in and find this.

I had a real struggle getting Inish Carraig out*, which makes it all the more special when people enjoy it. As you've said, Kenubrion, it's supposed to sound authentically Norn Irish, and I had a lot of fun making it that way and showing off Belfast in a different light than the norm (and yet the sharp edges of the city still shaped the feel of the book, which is nice in its own way).

I'll go off and do the happy dance for the rest of the day. :)

*It was taken by a YA agent, and we worked for about 18 months turning it from the crossover title it started as (and ended up back as) to YA, sacrificing a lot of the Henry (adult) point of view in the process. And then it was subbed at a bad time, when publishers weren't looking for YA sf having bought a lot in the aftermath of the Hunger Games. Despite having positive interest by a Big 6 (they didn't want an alien invasion in the end), it didn't sell and came back to me, at which point I aged it back up and self published it. (I had an offer but it would have been a 2017 release date and by then I just felt I needed to close the circle on it and get it out.)
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#4
If you're looking for some fast and fun science fiction, search no more; Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee fits the bill perfectly. This is a so called soft sci-fi book. The setting is definitely sci-fi, but don't expect any space battles, travelling between the stars or in-depth exploration of scientific themes in a futuristic setting. Instead, this is an adventure story with detective/action hero elements set in the near future.

Zebedee's writing style is fluid and neat. She is very skilled in writing in different "voices". A taciturn policeman, a teenage boy, a pubescent girl; all are convincingly blown to life by the author's pen (well, keyboard probably). The book is also well edited. I couldn't find any typos, grammatical errors or clunky phrasing. This all combined made for a very pleasant reading experience.

The story is relatively straightforward, but has some cool twists and is presented in such a way that it keeps you flipping the pages to find out what happens next. It is very fast-paced, as they say a real page-turner.

The setting is post-Apocalyptic Northern-Island (Belfast). In the near future Earth has made contact with two advanced alien civilizations; the armoured, humanoid Zelotyr, and the canine Barath'na. Quickly after first contact the Zelotyr mistakenly almost eradicated humanity by bombing Earth's population centres (oops!), but here and there pockets of civilization still exist. The remainder of Earth's population is ruled by the Galactic Council, which is a joint venture led by humans and the two alien races (who being technologically superior call the shots). The story revolves around an adolescent Belfast boy named John who tries to eek out a living as a gang-member in ruined Belfast. His parents have been killed in the war against the Zelotyr and he now has to protect and raise his juvenile siblings. One day John and his buddy Taz are sent on a mission by a local gang-leader to perform an easy task. Shenanigans ensue.

As the story unfolds we meet various interesting characters, human as well as non-human, of which the soldier Peter and policeman Carter are my favorites. John and Taz are also cool characters. Josey, John's sister, is a bit irritating though en her part of the story didn't interest me nearly as much as the rest did.

The only gripe I have with this book is that it is rather short. I feel the story could have done with at least 50 extra pages. Especially the ending was over before I knew it. It didn't exactly feel rushed, but it was close.

All things considered I really enjoyed this book and I can recommend it to anyone looking for some quick soft sci-fi action. I rate this 8/10 (**** 4 GoodReads stars).
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#5
Thank you so much. :) i'm just finishing a new YA one and fear I was in danger of rushing the ending again, this is a timely reminder to be confident and patient and slow it down a little. :)
 

Travis

Might as well be a Malazan regular
#7
Thank you so much. :) i'm just finishing a new YA one and fear I was in danger of rushing the ending again, this is a timely reminder to be confident and patient and slow it down a little. :)
Your books have been getting a lot of praise around here I've noticed. I think I'm definitely going to have to pick 1 (or 2!) up very soon
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#8
Your books have been getting a lot of praise around here I've noticed. I think I'm definitely going to have to pick 1 (or 2!) up very soon
It's been incredible support, and I'm so grateful for it.

I've had a good first year, in terms of reception to the books. Since I don't write conventional sf (I write much, much closer to the characters than is the norm for sf) it's been very reassuring. I' d been -very slightly- less terrified on this release and, so far, feedback is very good. I'm just waiting for the one star review to burst the bubble. :)
 

Travis

Might as well be a Malazan regular
#9
It's been incredible support, and I'm so grateful for it.

I've had a good first year, in terms of reception to the books. Since I don't write conventional sf (I write much, much closer to the characters than is the norm for sf) it's been very reassuring. I' d been -very slightly- less terrified on this release and, so far, feedback is very good. I'm just waiting for the one star review to burst the bubble. :)
Well evidence seems to show that you've been putting in a lot of hard work and dedication. You've always come across as very humble in your posts and the most talented people are usually the most humble in my opinion. I very much look forward to reading your work and letting you know what I think
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#10
Well evidence seems to show that you've been putting in a lot of hard work and dedication. You've always come across as very humble in your posts and the most talented people are usually the most humble in my opinion. I very much look forward to reading your work and letting you know what I think
It would be kind of funny if you were the first 1* review now, after writing that! ;)
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#11
It would be kind of funny if you were the first 1* review now, after writing that! ;)
Ha!

Hush now ;)

A story:

Just before I brought out Inish Carraig I approached another author for a cover blurb and they agreed, so off I sent the un-copy edited proof.

I got the worst critique in my life - and I've had my share of horrors - back. The message was don't publish it. Change almost all of it. And Belfast was terribly portrayed in it (which was my biggest fear - I'm from about 15 miles from Belfast and in Norn Iron 15 miles can be a gulf.)

It was with the copy editor, the cover art was done, the pre-order on Amazon was up, I had no way but forwards. I literally released it, terrified it would get lambasted by everyone in NI. In fact, my poor mother was enlisted to check the Belfast passages for anything awful. :)
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#12
The fool!

Inish Carraig still remains my favourite of the three. Sunset over Abendau is better written, but there's an originality and freshness to Inish Carraig that elevates it for me.
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#13
The fool!

Inish Carraig still remains my favourite of the three. Sunset over Abendau is better written, but there's an originality and freshness to Inish Carraig that elevates it for me.
I think they're very different. I have people who like both. Abendau has the feel of a classic space opera which some like and the wider scope of a trilogy. Inish is unlike most things out there and has the Northern Irish venacular which is fun.

At the moment, Inish is the bigger critical hit - just - but Sunset is getting amazing reviews so far (And Heir did well, too) and looks to be the most popular with, I think, the bigger reach (because the NI aspects of Inish can be hit or miss, especially in America etc.)

But, this is a problem for me and always has been. After the trilogy my next book is a dark fantasy based in the Antrim glens. Lots of fairies and spooky things. And then a YA sf. And then a cross over SF with deep psychological elements... And there is little to link them except me. I'm not sure how big a problem it is. I hope I have enough of a style that people know what they'll be getting - close characters, clear voices and not a little darkness - and will go with the flow. But they might not.

Which is why it's important I keep this whole writing thing where it needs to be - as my ...not hobby, anymore, it's gone too far for that and I have too many deadlines etc waiting for me. Maybe passion. But that the market doesn't become my focus and I snuff whatever drives me to write my variant stories.

And that's all more than anyone asked for. Sorry. When I start talking, things emerge that I don't expect. :eek: