Book Review: Saving Paradise by Mike Bond

Saving Paradise by Mike Bond

  • Method of Obtaining: My copy was provided by the publisher.
  • Published by:  Mandevilla Press
  • Release Date:  11.20.2012

When a beautiful journalist drowns mysteriously off Waikiki, Hawaii, Special Forces veteran Pono Hawkins, now a well-known surfer and international correspondent for surfing magazines, soon gets embroiled in trying to find out why she died. What he quickly learns makes him a target for murder or life in prison as a cabal of powerful corporations, foreign killers and crooked politicians places the blame on him. Haunted by memories of Afghanistan, and determined to protect the Hawaii he loves from dirty politics tied to huge destructive energy developments, Pono turns to Special Forces buddies and his own covert skills to fight his deadly enemies, trying both save himself and find her killers. Alive with the sights, sounds and history of Hawaii, SAVING PARADISE is also a deepy rich portrait of what Pono calls the seamy side of paradise, and an exciting thriller of politics, lies and remorseless murder.

I recommend:

My Review:

Since moving to Hawaii, I have been all about reading books by local authors.  I love immersing myself in the culture and I work to do that through reading, through conversing with my neighbors and friends, and through just living life here on O’ahu.  Mike Bond speaks with knowledge about the island, and life on the island; but he does so with a bit of an attitude that, frankly, turned me off quite a bit as I was trying to push myself through his story.  Saving Paradise is not so much a book about the investigation of a woman’s murder as much as it’s a diatribe against big businesses and the changes occurring on the islands.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am all for the preservation of the beautiful islands and the habitats they boast of.  I’m on the side of the whales, the seals, the sharks – basically the marine life… as well as the natural life that flourishes (and some that doesn’t) on the land.  I hate to see beauty marred by skyscrapers and signs of progression and, I can tell you from personal experience, living on O’ahu is one of the biggest disappointments and thrills of my life.  It’s paradise, but a dirty, sludgy paradise that I share with almost a million people in a 560 sq mile space.

Bond chose to make a novel his platform – railing against real companies and real issues facing the island in recent years.  He loudly speaks out against windfarms and the proposed line that would upset more than a few marine habitats and coral reefs.  He uses derogatory language to speak of current and past presidents and the government – both national and state levels.  And he does all of this through the mouthpiece of his character, Pono Hawkins, a retired special forces veteran.

It was difficult to believe that all of the hate coming out toward the people in power was purely fictional, and since real life was being pushed on me through the pages of Saving Paradise, it was difficult to lose myself in the story.  Instead, it became sort of a game to see who would be attacked next… and the mystery I lost complete interest in.  What I appreciated most about Saving Paradise was not its literary merit (there is none, really), nor it’s riveting story (hardly existed) – what I appreciated was the wealth of information about the islands.  Now I know that instead of visiting Kaua’i, I want to go to Moloka’i.  I want to visit that Chinese restaurant down on King Street here on O’ahu.  I want to experience life like an islander does – to live with the aloha spirit and to hang loose.

So while I am disappointed by not getting a good story, I do appreciate that I walked away from Saving Paradise with more information about my home since May.  I hope that I will come to love Hawai’i with the same passion and learn about my own special places that I can one day then turn around and share with another newcomer.

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