Lancashire-based author Jay Tomkinson has recently published his first novel, Akresha – and after learning about it, I was interested to check it out.
The protagonist, Jake, has recently been released after the latest of several spells in prison, and is determined that this time, he will turn his life around. However, he doesn’t get long to consider his next steps before he begins to hear a voice in his head; it belongs to Akresha, an immortal, dimension-hopping being that feeds on emotional energy and wishes to use Jake as a conduit for recharging itself off humanity’s emotions. Jake agrees, not realising that Akresha was exiled by its race for wreaking havoc on other worlds, and intends to use him to become powerful enough to find its way home and seek revenge.
I liked the initial buildup before Jake and Akresha come into contact for the first time. The story cuts back and forth between two different planes: the small-scale actions of Jake trying to figure out how he’s going to make a fresh start; and above him, the plotting of Akresha, whose existence is beyond human comprehension. As the story unfolds, while it is mostly Akresha’s actions that drive the plot, we spend a great deal of time inside Jake’s head, as he tries to deal not just with having an alien telepathically talking to him, but more ordinary aspects of his life like falling in love and deciding how to move forward. The development of the characters’ thoughts and relationships over time is compelling, and definitely one of the story’s biggest strengths.
The three main human characters – Jake, his girlfriend Kat, and her dad Joe – are all likeable, and have relatable thought processes, from their motivations to their insecurities. When we are first introduced to Joe, I expected him to be the typical overprotective father who doesn’t want Jake making moves on his darling daughter; but even though it would actually be reasonable for Joe to act that way based on his background, he turns out to be a refreshingly open-minded sort. We also get a good idea of what makes Akresha tick, even though it obviously thinks very differently from the human characters. I found the sci-fi element interesting – the nature of Akresha and its race, and some of the more impressive things we see it do – and even though the reader knows from the start what Akresha really wants, there is still an element of mystery elsewhere in the plot to add more intrigue.
There were a couple of aspects that I felt could have been improved upon. Firstly, the story could have used more descriptions: there’s not much sense of what the characters look like. Second, the dialogue doesn’t always feel natural (e.g. characters saying ‘cannot’ rather than ‘can’t’) and the characters’ voices can become indistinct; Jake sounds a little overly eloquent at times.
In conclusion, Akresha is an enjoyable novel, which I would recommend to fans of sci-fi and character-driven stories. Rating: 4/5.