Driven to the Hilt

The Deepest Cut Volume 1

Fiction - Science Fiction
328 Pages
Reviewed on 11/16/2017
Buy on Amazon

    Book Review

Reviewed by Scott Cahan for Readers' Favorite

Driven to the Hilt: The Deepest Cut by D.G. Lamb is one of the most original and well-told stories I’ve ever read. First-time author D.G. Lamb has established himself as a new talent in young adult novels with this first effort. At its core, this is a survival tale that reminded me a little of other great books like The Martian and Swiss Family Robinson. Driven to the Hilt, however, took the basic concept of man vs. nature in a totally original direction. The story takes place in a colony of Earth on another planet in the not-too-distant-future. An eleven-year-old boy named Joshua finds himself alone after a harrowing encounter with a dreaded creature called a spiderviper. The event is the first time a spiderviper has ever ventured out of its home in the “swamp” and into the populated area where the humans live. The city is built on a concrete platform, high enough to keep humans safe from the dangerous animals in the swamp. Various events lead Joshua to run from the authorities and he accidentally falls down the steep wall that leads into the swamp. From there, we follow Joshua as he struggles to survive in the alien world that he’s trapped in. When he eventually finds a way to go back to the world of humans to get some of his necessities, he finds that there are just as many threats to his life in the city as there are in the swamp.

Author D.G. Lamb has a smooth yet intelligent style of writing. In Driven to the Hilt, he gives us lots of details about everything from the cooking ingredients that Joshua used to the intricacies of the swamp’s ecosystem. He makes everything sound believable and interesting. He also did a great job of making his main character feel real. In eleven-year-old Joshua, we’re given an extremely likable character who is very smart and resourceful and is easy to feel sympathy for. The side characters in the story were also well fleshed out and each was interesting in their own unique way. The unpredictable story arc was probably my favorite aspect. I’m not exaggerating when I say the story plot took 5 or 6 turns into directions that I had not predicted. There were even a couple of times that I was unsure if I liked the direction it was going. But, then a few pages later, I was completely hooked again and marveling at how much I was enjoying what was happening. By the end of the book, every experience that Joshua is forced to endure, and every character that he is forced to interact with all come together. It’s like a great impressionistic painting. When you look at it up close you see lots of beautiful colors, but when you step back and look at the finished product you find yourself in awe at how all the colors come together. That’s how I felt at the end of Driven to the Hilt: The Deepest Cut.

Caitlin Lyle Farley

In Driven to the Hilt, Joshua’s father might be gone, but the stigma of his treason remains. Joshua and his mother live in the slums of New Cincinnati, a colonist city on Cypress Grove. Their lives are hard. Joshua’s mother works two jobs to keep them going and save money so she can open her own restaurant. Her culinary skills are certain to ensure its success. Joshua isn’t content to let his mother do all the work. The eleven-year-old has a gift for playing stickball. Betting on his games has earned him a fair amount of money, and trouble. All their plans crumble when Joshua returns home, is confronted by a spiderviper, and separated from his mother. With nowhere else to go, Joshua makes a desperate escape to avoid going to the orphanage and instead ends up in the wild and dangerous swamp surrounding New Cincinnati.

Cypress Grove is a stunning world packed with enough of the alien to feel different while still having enough similarities to Earth to be relatable. Author D.G. Lamb navigates Joshua’s trauma with a sense of surrealism that’s both poignant and true to life. The battle for survival takes on an entirely new slant when seen through the eyes of one as young as Joshua is. Lamb does an outstanding job of displaying Joshua’s evolving worldliness while still maintaining a childlike sense of innocence about the character. These aspects combine to make Driven to the Hilt a memorable novel, but what makes it truly unique is Lamb’s use of font changes for different characters and large spaces for dramatic pauses. This ‘Dynamic Formatting’ is very effective in many instances, yet it’s subtle enough that a reader who dislikes it shouldn’t be overly distracted.

Ruffina Oserio

Driven to the Hilt is the first entry in The Deepest Cut series by DG Lamb, a debut novel that brilliantly introduces a series with huge promise of entertainment. The reader is introduced to a young hero, a man shut out from his society because of his father’s crimes, and facing threatening challenges in an environment that is utterly harsh and unforgiving, and creatures that are deadly. Young Joshua has to learn first to survive outside the colony in the planet of Cypress Grove to be able to overcome the vile creature that has trapped humans in the forest for decades. But will he have enough fight left in him to face what the underbelly of the colony reserves for him?

I was immediately gripped by the exquisite prose, the author’s ability to create vivid images in the minds of readers and to plunge them into the consciousness of the characters. The action is intense and the psychological aspect of the story comes out brilliantly. It is emotionally intense and it is hard not to feel for the protagonist. I enjoyed the fact that he is a young man thrust into difficult situations and watching him grow through the challenges is delightful. The pacing is great and the paragraph breaks are well-crafted to make for an excellent read. DG Lamb knows how to make the reader keep on turning the pages, thanks to the masterful storytelling craft and the memorable characters. Driven to the Hilt is an exciting read, indeed!

Rabia Tanveer

Driven to the Hilt: The Deepest Cut (Volume 1) by D.G. Lamb is a story of survival and growing up too quickly. This is a coming of age novel about a young boy named Joshua, set in a sci-fi/dystopian world. Joshua is already not living the good life, thanks to his father and his past mistakes. He is already treated like a social pariah and life is not a walk in the park for him. Living on Cypress Grove is not easy and there is not much he can do about it.

When an unfortunate event leads to Joshua being trapped outside of his colony, he knows that he is in a whole lot of trouble. He has to travel past a jungle to reach a place where he might be saved from the dangers of the outside world. However, it is not that easy. The jungle holds a deadly creature that shows no mercy, but since the people in his colony never showed any mercy as well, he believes he can fight his way through. But can he? Does he have what it takes to survive? Or will he perish in the wilderness?

I really loved how Joshua was stuck in a world where almost everything was unknown and he had no idea what he was supposed to do to survive, but he had a lot of tenacity and faced the unknown head-on and came out victorious. He was strong and resilient in the face of adversary, and it forced him to grow up fast. Author D.G. Lamb did a wonderful job creating his characters, bringing Joshua and others to life on every page. The plot was smooth, fast paced, and held my attention until the last word. This novel would make an excellent gift for young readers and would teach them that nothing is impossible if they put their mind, heart and soul into it.

Romuald Dzemo

Driven to the Hilt is the first book in The Deepest Cut series by DG Lamb, a gripping sci-fi that will enthrall readers. In a story set in the planet of Cypress Grove, Joshua is trapped outside the mining colony because of his father’s betrayal. He quickly makes an appalling discovery — the rainforest is inhabited by very dangerous creatures and one that has kept humans enslaved for decades. But escaping these creatures of the forest is just the beginning of the challenges that lie ahead of him, including the darkest secrets of the colony’s underworld.

For a debut, Driven to the Hilt is a great success on several levels. First off, the author creates a setting that readers will enjoy navigating; an inhospitable terrain. It is against the background of a strange setting that the protagonist is forced to face himself, develop courage and resilience, and become creative in finding solutions. The elements of a coming of age are well-developed in this novel and readers will be thrilled to follow the path of the protagonist. The conflict is well-developed and the protagonist grows through this conflict. It escalates very quickly and the climax is mind-blowing. The novel is well-plotted and each chapter is crafted to keep the reader longing to read more. DG Lamb’s scenes are masterfully written, leaving the reader with a clear sense of POV. This is a fascinating read, a story that explores the depth of human nature, themes of greed, social injustice, and personal development.