An Ocean Life

Fiction - Adventure
347 Pages
Reviewed on 06/08/2024
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

An engineer by vocation, Cotwell began his dive training in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1996, getting his CMAS certification under the tutelage of old school wreck divers. On an early morning dive in the winter of 1997 in freezing waters, the first stage of his regulator froze and free flowed, which marked his transition to diving in tropical waters. Since then, he has dived in the waters off New Guinea, Borneo, Bali, Sulawesi, Hawaii, and the Red Sea.

During his youth, Cotwell often daydreamed about traveling the world and writing about his exploits. Little did he know at the time that some of those “exploits” would seep into the stories he would eventually write.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

An Ocean Life by T.R. Cotwell is a surreal dive into a world few of us have thought about or experienced. Mark is an entrepreneur and, after years of failed start-ups, he and his business partner appear to be finally on the road to success. For Mark, his family life has suffered somewhat through his commitment to his business efforts, so the planned family vacation to Hawaii is a chance to reconnect and reestablish the fun and excitement they used to experience. As a fan of scuba diving and all things marine-related, Mark has booked a couple of dives while the family is in Hawaii but since his wife no longer wishes to scuba dive, he undertakes these dives as part of an organized diving charter. Whilst they are diving around a reef, the group comes into contact with one of the most feared and misunderstood apex predators, the Great White shark. What follows is an unexpected and surreal journey as Mark attempts to find his way back home alone and lost in the wide Pacific Ocean.

An Ocean Life was quite an unexpected premise but one that held plenty of interesting options for author T.R. Cotwell. What I appreciated most was the author’s beautifully descriptive prose that enables readers to experience the loss and confusion Mark felt as he struggled to come to terms with the situation in which he unexpectedly found himself. Via Mark's perspective, the reader is taken on a journey that few can understand and none experience. At times the serendipitous nature of Mark’s journey and encounters might stretch the bounds of probability but then the entire premise is predicated on a massive leap of imagination. Readers will be carried along with Mark’s trials as well as his, at times, utter loneliness and despair but will also revel in the joys and freedoms he encounters on his epic journey. This is an unusual read but it does us good to stretch our imaginations into areas we have never considered and this author certainly managed to do that for me. Mark’s journey highlights what is truly important and it was very much a voyage of self-discovery that he embarked on. I enjoyed this tale much more than I expected and I highly recommend this read.

Saifunnissa Hassam

T.R. Cotwell’s An Ocean Life is an exciting and action-packed deep-sea adventure set against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. A well-crafted multifaceted tale, it intertwines science fiction, a transformative journey, and the drama of a family’s courage and resilience. Mark Forster is an engineer and cofounder of a startup company with his friend Ben. The company designs submersible probes. Mark takes a long-awaited and well-deserved vacation in Hawaii with his wife Cecilia, and their daughters Sarah, 13, and Amelia, 12. Mark is passionate about deep-sea diving. One morning, he goes deep-sea diving with a guide and other divers off the shores of Lanai. The dive suddenly turns terrifying when a great white shark attacks Mark. He blacks out and, when he regains consciousness, he finds himself inexplicably adrift in the Pacific Ocean, at a considerable distance from the Hawaiian Islands. He realizes he is on his own, and is likely presumed to be dead. He longs desperately to be with his family again and is determined to find his way home eastwards across the vast Pacific to California.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading T.R. Cotwell’s riveting and immersive An Ocean Life for its remarkable character Mark Forster, and its unforgettable multifaceted storyline of an extraordinary journey across the Pacific. I liked Mark’s character development. He reaches deep within himself and comes to terms with a perilous journey, fraught with uncertainty, facing unpredictable challenges of the marine environment so different from his life on land. The story gained great depth through specific settings and challenges at sea, how Mark uses his knowledge of the sea, Pacific marine life, and the ocean currents, using the sun by day and the stars by night to navigate and keep himself oriented on a west-to-east journey. Mark’s courage, inner resourcefulness, and determination to live sprang vividly to life through the well-thought-out details of Mark's near-death experiences. Mark’s inner journey, emotions, and love for his family were expressed very well through memories of his family and his life on land. I was profoundly moved by the family dynamics that emerged, particularly that of Mark’s wife Cecilia as she dealt with grief and loss, not really knowing Mark’s fate. The twists and turns continued to the end, and I was moved by the poignancy of the ending. Finally, I loved the descriptions of the enormous variety of marine life, the sea storms, coral reefs, and seamounts. Some of the most captivating parts were when I was caught up in the surreal and dream-like world of the deep sea. An Ocean Life is a terrific story, a suspenseful tale of human resilience and hope.

Pikasho Deka

An Ocean Life is a thrilling sci-fi adventure drama by T.R. Cotwell. For the past five years, Mark Foster has worked hard to secure funding for his latest startup alongside his partner, Ben. But now that the company is finally ready to launch, he wants a break with his family. Mark takes his family to Maui for a long-due vacation. But when he is attacked by an apex predator during a sea diving operation, he inexplicably wakes up to find himself inhabiting the body of a great white shark in the ocean. Left with no other option, Mark slowly learns to hunt and survive as a shark, eventually embarking on a treacherous journey to the West Coast. Soon, he realizes that he must somehow make contact with humans to get himself out of his predicament.

Part survival drama, part sci-fi mystery, An Ocean Life takes the reader on an adventurous ride unlike any other. T.R. Cotwell masterfully captures the beauty, wonder, and scale of the Pacific with vivid descriptions of the ocean and everything it entails. Cotwell's narrative is absorbing, drawing you in with a fascinating mystery and keeping you glued to the pages with a character-driven drama that is delicious to consume. Most of the book has Mark as the only character chewing up the scenery. He is a likable protagonist that readers can sympathize with. I liked how he evolved as a person throughout his time in the ocean and thoroughly enjoyed his unique kinship with Marci. I heartily recommend this book to readers of survival dramas and sci-fi mysteries.