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Drowning: Flight 1421 - A Heart-Pounding Thriller of Survival and Redemption

Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421

By T.J. Newman


Published by Simon & Schuster India


MRP: 699/-

Thank you @SIMONANDSCHUSTERIN for a media copy of the book.

T.J. Newman's thriller novel Drowning is an edge-of-your-seat read that will leave you gasping for breath. Set aboard the fictional Coastal Airlines Flight 1421 from Honolulu to San Francisco, this novel tells the harrowing tale of the passengers and crew fighting to survive after the plane suffers catastrophic hydraulic failure shortly after takeoff and is forced to ditch in the ocean south of Molokai.

Newman wastes no time jumping right into the action. Within the first few pages, the left engine of Flight 1421 explodes in a ball of flames. With no hydraulics, the pilots have zero control of the plane. Ditching in the ocean is their only option for survival. The plane impacts the water with tremendous force, breaking into pieces. Passengers who manage to evacuate are faced with massive fires fueled by leaking jet fuel on the surface. Those unable to get out are trapped inside the rapidly sinking aircraft.

And thus begins a desperate race against time as the Coast Guard and Navy scramble all their resources for an incredibly complex rescue mission. The heart-pounding pace never lets up as Newman alternates between three distinct groups: the rescue coordination unfolding on the surface, the terrified passengers fighting to stay alive inside the plane, and a lone passenger's wife who is herself an experienced deep sea diver.

Newman excels at weaving together multiple storylines and perspectives. Just when you think you know where the narrative is headed, she pulls the rug out from under you. The stakes are at an absolute maximum from page one and somehow manage to ratchet even higher as new complications and dangers emerge.

The character development is quite impressive given the breakneck speed of the plot. Newman sketches out backstories and emotional arcs amidst all the action. From newly minted crew members on their first day on the job, to vacationing couples celebrating their anniversary, to estranged spouses flying with their child, we get a glimpse into who these people are and what matters most as they face their own mortality.

The real star-crossed couple here are Will and Chris Kent, whose flashbacks reveal snippets of how they fell in love, built a life, and then grew apart after a family tragedy. Their 11-year-old daughter Shannon is with Will on the flight, while Chris scrambles to join the rescue efforts, providing much of the book's raw emotional ballast.

Make no mistake, Newman pulls absolutely no punches when it comes to the planes-and-boats procedural details. The book features granular specifics on commercial aviation, aeronautical engineering, hydraulics, deep sea rescue protocols, and hyperbaric medicine that lend an ultra-realistic feel. You may just come away knowing more about breathing compressed air and decompression sickness than you ever expected!

That said, the novel's plausibility strains as it barrels toward the climax with increasingly preposterous twists. Suspending disbelief becomes quite the high-wire act. Without getting into spoilers, let's just say the Coast Guard ends up attempting a dead-of-night submarine rescue...on a commercial airplane...using slapdash modifications that would make Elon Musk's engineers blush.

But if you can get past some of thelogical jumps, Newman's relentless pacing and visceral details will have you white-knuckling to the very last page. She is adept at ratcheting up the tension with new obstacles and curveballs chapter after chapter, never letting the energy flag. Fans of the films Gravity and Apollo 13 will find much to love in Drowning's claustrophobic life-or-death scenarios.

This is a bare-knuckled thriller that pulls no punches. Newman repeatedly pushes her characters -- and readers -- right up to the brink, and the sheer intensity is likely to stick with you long after turning that final page. While perhaps a bit too melodramatic at times, Drowning largely succeeds as an edge-of-your-seat tale where the body count keeps rising but hope springs eternal.

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