Author: T.J. Newman
Published: 1st June 2023, Simon & Schuster UK
Status: Read May 2023 courtesy Simon & Schuster AU
Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated, fasten your seatbelt, and be ready to brace for T.J. Newman’s exhilarating sophomore novel, Drowning.
Just minutes after takeoff from a Hawaiian airport, Flight 1421 suffers catastrophic failure and plunges towards the Pacific Ocean. Those that survive the ditching frantically exit the bobbing plane, but twelve people are still onboard when it begins sinking beneath the waves.
From the opening line the reader is thrust into the emergency as the pilots battle for control of the failing plane. This initiates an urgent pace that rarely lets up as Drowning unfolds (except for a short flashback) over a roughly five hour timeline. As the souls on board fight to survive, and the Navy strives to rescue them, each time salvation seems near, it slips away, ratcheting the tension exponentially.
The third person narrative shifts between that of the trapped survivors, and the rescue contingent. Among those on the downed plane which includes the Captain, two airflight attendants, an elderly couple, four unrelated passengers, and an unaccompanied minor, is Will, an engineer, and his eleven year old daughter, Shannon, who have a central role in the story. And it is Chris, Shannon’s mother and Will’s estranged wife, who as an industrial diver, becomes a key player in the rescue effort. There’s plenty of emotion as characters confront fear, loss, regret, and their own mortality.
As a former flight attendant, Newman writes with authority in regards to aviation operations, and though I can’t attest to the accuracy of the technical elements of the novel, it presents as authentic. I found the scenes easy to visualise, and much like her debut novel, Falling, I imagine Drowning will also be optioned for the big screen.
With its well executed, high stakes premise, Drowning is a thrilling read that will leave you breathless.
Available from Simon & Schuster Australia
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