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The Penal Colony

by Richard Herley

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250876,728 (3.76)14
It is 1997. The British government now runs island prison colonies to take dangerous offenders from its overcrowded mainland jails. Among all these colonies, Sert, 25 miles off the north Cornish coast, has the worst reputation. There are no warders. Satellite technology is used to keep the convicts under watch. New arrivals are dumped by helicopter and must learn to survive as best they can. To Sert, one afternoon in July, is brought Anthony John Routledge, sentenced for a sex-murder he did not commit. Routledge knows he is here for ever. And he knows he must quickly forget the rules of civilized life. But not all the islanders are savages. Under the charismatic leadership of one man a community has evolved. A community with harsh and unyielding rules, peopled by resourceful men for whom the hopeless dream of escape may not be so hopeless after all ...… (more)

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» See also 14 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I loved the balance between survival adventure and character development. The writing was excellent with good pace, plot and characters. ( )
  BridgitDavis | Jul 16, 2018 |
This wasn’t a bad book but, having read the high praise from several other reviews, I think I must have missed that “special something” that made this book stand out for other people. The story is centered on a man who, imprisoned for a murder he didn’t commit, is dropped off by a helicopter on an island-based penal colony. Nobody else inhabits the island except for other prisoners who were put there because they were the worst of the worst.

There are some worthwhile themes in this book. The ingenuity of the characters in the book in surviving and improving their lives under harsh conditions without modern comforts is impressive. The book also deals somewhat with the folly of prejudice and judgmental attitudes toward others. However, these themes are hardly unique to this book. The premise sounded interesting, and the story did hold some interest for me, but it didn’t grab me strongly. I also never really warmed up to any of the characters.

I don’t think this book aged well. I hadn’t been reading very long before I started to wonder, “When was this book written?!” I’ve had this book on my Kindle for quite some time now, so I didn’t remember or check the publication date when I decided to read it. I was actually surprised when I looked it up and saw that it had been written as recently as 1987. I think it was mostly the attitudes of some of the characters that made the book feel dated to me. I think this is also the reason why I didn’t warm up to the characters. The main character was quite prejudiced, particularly earlier on in the story, and he also came across as having a naiveté that I found annoying. Although the book shifted focus to other characters occasionally, the majority of the book was spent in the point of view of the main character. There were some other characters that seemed interesting, but we never really got to know them very well.

The ending felt rushed, and it lacked the level of detail that was given to the events leading up to the ending. I would have liked to know more about what happened in the end. ( )
  YouKneeK | Feb 6, 2014 |
I read this book a while back. A free download. It should never have been free! An excellent, intelligent read. Highly recommend this book. After this I decided I'll never download any writer's book for free again. ( )
  VimalVaz | Sep 27, 2013 |
Another surprise - a long ago published story by an indie writer that is outstanding. The title gave me a clue about the storyline. However, I was not prepared for the total immersion in the story. Everything about the book is 5 stars. The writing style, characters and their development, subplots, and the premise of the saga kept me engrossed. I must admit that the English jargon left me in scratching my head but it was integral to the characters and the flow of the story. I now have another must read author. ( )
  honoliipali | Aug 29, 2013 |
The first time I read The Penal Colony was 1998 or so; I spotted a well-used paperback copy in a pile of abandoned belongings at a college dormitory. I took it, began to read, and was instantly absorbed. I was blown away by the story, the characters, and through it all the language: sometimes sharp and precise, other times poetic, always compelling and memorable. I consider myself a fairly well-read person, in terms of classic literature as well as modern best-sellers, and without hesitation, I would have put The Penal Colony on my "Desert Island List" of ten books that I would take with me to my own exile on Sert.

Up until a few years ago, this book was hard to find: out of print (at least in the USA), loosely adapted into a truly godawful movie (consider that I've probably read this book ten times, yet never been able to sit through No Escape even the once),and precious little information available on the internet. Now it's available as an e-book on Amazon, and it's an absolute gem of a book. The ideas, situations and characters will stay with you for life. ( )
  benjamin.duffy | Jul 28, 2013 |
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Routledge kam zu sich.
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