Book Review by Mishal Faraz
With its superlative, engaging narration and breathtakingly stunning illustrations, British author S.F.Said’s Phoenix is an unforgettable, larger than life space epic. You would never look at the sky and the stars the same way after reading this book.
We live in a universe which contains about 10,000 billion galaxies, each of which contains about 100 billion stars, our Sun being just one of those stars. Perhaps, there are other dwellers in other galaxies who are just as alien to us as we are to them!
Such fascinating musings have fleeted through human minds since time immemorial. This sense of curiosity deepens when you read S.F. Said’s book Phoenix – a space epic with an expansive, larger-than-life canvas. It took S.F. Said 7 years to finish this book and once you start reading it, you will know why – it is a big scale and ambitious piece of work spread all over space with humans, aliens, planets, stars, black holes and so much more – a very engrossing mix of mythology and sci-fi.
“Lucky dreamed of the stars again that night. He loved the stars and dreamed about them most nights.”
This is how Phoenix begins. We are introduced to the protagonist, a young boy called Lucky who has always been mesmerized by the stars and dreamt of them. But this particular dream was conspicuously vivid – it seemed as if the stars were serenading him, calling him. They seemed so real, so close that he could “taste the stars, sparkling on his tongue”.
When Lucky wakes up, to his horror, he finds a hole burnt through his bedsheet.
That was just the beginning of the bizarre events for Lucky. Suddenly, his world is in turmoil – his mother tells him they should leave “Phoenix”, the moon they live on. He witnesses his mother expertly combating an elite group of fighters. Never having been aware of this aspect of his mother’s personality, he wonders how many other secrets she’s kept from him.
As events unfold Lucky finds himself on a starship racing through galaxies with aliens. There are answers he must find. It’s more than a personal existential crisis that he’s facing. The universe is at the brink of extinction and Lucky may be the savior who could protect everyone. The stars are calling out to him but will he be able to decipher those songs in time? Would he be able to find out who he really is? Grab your copy of Phoenix and embark on a breathtaking journey.
S.F. Said has created an absorbing world which pulls you in. You feel as if you’re flying through space with Lucky – you can feel the love he has for stars as well as the searing pain he feels when his own body emits the same light as the celestial bodies he is so fascinated by.
With 487 pages, Phoenix is a long read. However, it is so spellbinding that you would not want to put it down! S.F. Said’s words flow like magic, page after page, and the narration is strengthened by extraordinary illustrations by Dave McKean. Every illustration is a piece of art. They occur in the book whenever Lucky is having a dream or an out-of-his-body experience – they portray his private little world so effectively that we literally feel that we are with him.
Phoenix, in a nutshell, is a treat to the senses- a wonderful escape through uncharted territories which have fascinated mankind forever. You will find yourself feeling as if you’ve just said goodbye to an old friend once you turn the last page.