Boulder author John Shors invites readers to come away to a fleeting island paradise in his new novel Cross Currents.
In December 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated over 10 countries and killed hundreds of thousands of people. The Thai island of Ko Phi Phi was one of the islands destroyed in the wave’s path. It is here that John Shors sets his novel.
In the prelude to the tsunami, Shors’ main character, Patch, has decided to escape to Ko Phi Phi after a drug deal goes wrong in Bangkok. Patch spends his days helping the owners of a small, bungalow-filled resort until his troubles resurface in the form of his brother, Ryan. Against his brother’s urging, Patch plans to escape from Thailand once he finishes helping the resort owners. In trouble with the law, falling in love and attached to the needy family, Patch finds himself in a moral dilemma—torn between what he’d like to do and what is right.
Readers may be disappointed if they approach Shors’ novel with the expectation of an action-packed thrill ride set against the backdrop of the tsunami. The novel is not that at all. Instead it is a novel about the emotional experiences and hardships that can make life seem like a metaphorical tidal wave, threatening to pull its victims under. Where other authors may have focused directly on the tsunami that battered the island, Shors takes his time building up the lives of his characters, starting the novel several days before the disaster.
Little character quirks charm the reader into the calm of the island. Easily-relatable characters begin to breathe and live with each turn of page. Niran and Suchin, the son and daughter of the resort owners, continually enchant the reader with bright smiles and clever jokes, while their grandmother, Yai, is reminiscent of the typical grumpy gran.
The strength in Shors’ writing of Cross Currents is in the vivacity of his characters. They may be people who live half a world away, but they love, worry and feel in the same way that readers do. The beauty of the choices they make as they struggle with life comes out in the final scenes of the tsunami’s wake.
Some novels fall prey to bland scenery when the characters are painted so brightly. Cross Currents is not one of these novels. The clear blue waters, sharp cliffs and crisp beaches are painted as vividly as a picture with Shors’ words. Though reading in a quiet room, the reader will have no trouble imagining the hush of the waves and the laughter of children that Shors describes.
Though the novel is entrancing and the characters are delighting, Shors may be falling into a rut. First-time readers are sure to enjoy the descriptions of Ko Phi Phi’s beaches and people. Readers familiar with Shors’ other novels may find it difficult to avoid thinking of previous tales containing similar characters and scenery.
Shors’ novel impresses upon the reader how fleeting paradise can be. Though conflicts can be resolved and love can be found, all that can disappear in a wave.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ana Faria at Ana.firstname.lastname@example.org.