The Experiment

Fiction - Science Fiction
284 Pages
Reviewed on 05/13/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Neanderthals: The Experiment by Serag Monier is a compelling novel with a strong appeal to fans of science fiction. Omar and Shadia discover each other on a deserted island; none of them is aware how they got there. Bumping one's head in an elevator and waking up on a deserted island isn’t normal and it still isn’t normal when what feels like a dream is actually real. But one thing is certain — they are being used for an experiment and they don’t understand why. This experiment is to uncover their deepest fears and their strengths, so they can be easily controlled. Follow these two characters as they navigate an uncharted world, face multiple dangers, and develop a bond and a love that grows with each obstacle and challenge. The ultimate test is how they face themselves and transform. Can they escape this island, uncover the secrets that brought them here, and reconquer their freedom?

The translation of this book by Eman Thabet is expertly done as it provides a fluid and beautiful reading experience for English readers. The plot is tight and intriguing, exploring themes of dehumanization, human rights, romance, and more. The writing is gorgeous and while the story has an eerie feel, it is rooted in human experience and the quest for freedom from control. The characters are skillfully written and fleshed out as we watch them struggle with memories, with defining who they are and understanding the place they find themselves in. Omar’s infection becomes a strong plot element. From the opening lines, the characters’ experience of the new world is disorienting but the message that makes them feel they are being watched changes everything. The setting is well-written with strong imagery — the terrain with odd-colored puddles reeking of animal dung, overarching tree branches, wildlife with wolves to tear at their flesh, and frightening large rats are just a few elements in the unfamiliar, dangerous landscape. Neanderthals: The Experiment is a fast-paced, enthralling science fiction novel that explores the value of human life, a tale with unforgettable characters and a plot that makes it a page-turning read.

Steven Robson

Neanderthals: The Experiment by Serag Monier is an adventure to a foreign world that is, in many ways, an analogy of the realities of Earth. Omar Awadallah wakes up on an island that is all too familiar, but quickly becomes very different from what he knows; a world with two moons, unfamiliar dangers, and unexpected environs. Not knowing how or why he is in this mysterious location, he quickly discovers he is not alone. Omar meets a female named Shadia, who is similarly nonplussed about their circumstances. As they set out to discover the truth, they each find that they are forced to confront not just the many challenges that come their way, but also the demons that inhabit their souls, stemming from past experiences that left unhealed scars. The choices they make and the paths they take will determine whether they live to tell their story.

Serag Monier’s Neanderthals: The Experiment could be a confronting read for some, given it touches on a number of taboo subjects, including the occupation of lands in the name of religious right. If you can get by these topics, it is a worthwhile read. What it does best is the exploration of human emotions. Both Omar and Shadia carry their own demons, and the trials they are forced to endure help bring these out in the open where they can be dealt with in partnership, each forcing the other to confront their feelings. The relationship between Omar and Shadia was well developed, starting with hostility, moving slowly to a point of mutual dependence, then through to full-blown love. Perhaps the greatest aspect of all, however, was the way Omar’s story was tied back to a possible reality that few would perceive likely, and the way Zahra came to terms with the revelations his writings ignited.

Scott Cahan

Neanderthals by Serag Monier is a science fiction action-adventure that evolves seamlessly into a breath-taking love story. A man and a woman named Omar and Shadia find themselves on a bizarre tropical island with no recollection of how they got there. Peril awaits them behind every tree and they soon find out they are being forced to participate in a deadly experiment. At first, our two protagonists are unwilling to work together, fighting each other more than the challenges of the island. As the days go on, however, they begin to see each other as their only ally and friend. When they discover others who live on the island, their situation goes from bad to worse and only their newfound love will help them survive.

Neanderthals works extremely well on two fronts; science fiction and romance. The dire situation the protagonists find themselves in and the general weirdness of the island reminded me of the old TV show, Lost, which is a good thing in my mind. Lots of strange things are going on and we don’t really know what it all means until late in the story. The author does a great job of keeping the suspense level up with lots of excitement and many twists and turns. The romance element of the story took me completely by surprise. Not because it was unexpected, but because it develops beautifully throughout the book in a manner that felt natural and compelling. Neanderthals starts as fascinating science fiction but ends as an exceptional love story. I applaud Serag Monier’s success in bringing the two elements together so fluidly to make a truly great story.

Pikasho Deka

Neanderthals: The Experiment is a sci-fi thriller written by Serag Monier. Omar Awadallah wakes up to find himself trapped in an unknown island filled with exotic flora and fauna. After getting attacked by a pack of wolves, Omar discovers that he is far from alone and finds a woman named Shadia in the same predicament as him. The two gradually overcome mutual suspicion and survive starvation and wild animal attacks together, but their respite is short-lived as things take a darker turn when they stumble upon a message sent by one of their captors. After a chance encounter with one of the inhabitants, Omar learns that they are stranded on an alien planet called Editia as part of a larger experiment. He must now do his part to ensure the safe return of Shadia and himself back to Earth.

A unique sci-fi tale with a love story for the ages, Neanderthals: The Experiment is an absorbing read that will entertain fans of sci-fi and romance lovers alike. Containing an unpredictable plot backed by an immersive storytelling style, Serag Monier's narrative instantly grabs your attention and holds it till the last page. Omar and Shadia are compelling characters with flaws that make them feel humane. The relationship between the two drives the narrative and seems like the focal point of the story. The plot moves at a steady pace with twists and turns that feel organic. Neanderthals: The Experiment felt like a refreshing love story that fans of sci-fi should readily appreciate.

Vincent Dublado

Neanderthals: The Experiment by Serag Monier is unapologetically disturbing, yet it hits all the right marks when it comes to the question of what it means to be human. It opens with two strangers, Omar and Shadia, who find themselves on a deserted island. Their captors give them an orientation, telling them not to bother about making sense of how they got there. Omar and Shadia have become unwilling participants in an experiment where they are given a choice to stay in a shelter with supplies that will last for years, but they will not be allowed to leave for three years. On top of that, they are required to write down the infinitesimal details of their lives. The other option is for them to search the island for a way out, which will not be easy as the island is teeming with natural dangers. Omar chooses to be Shadia’s protector and search for a way out. As they are exposed to many life-threatening dangers, they encounter a man named Baldreek, who speaks classical Arabic and reveals the grand scheme about the island and the purpose of the experiment.

How Neanderthals unfolds from here becomes intensely gripping in its simplicity. One of the brilliant elements of Serag Monier’s tale is its imposing perspective. In the early stages of the story, you stay almost entirely with Omar and Shadia, and you become a captive witness to how their travails blossom into something more intimate. And why not? Often, the strongest relationships are those that develop in times of great adversity. You understand why Omar wants to be Shadia’s protector, for he is the only company that she has, and he does not want to expose any of his vulnerability at the risk of making her perceive him as weak. Along the way, something sinister jolts you to turn the pages even more, as the experimentation has something to do with an event that connects Earth with an alien planet. After reading, you then realize that Neanderthals has a theme that will grow as it delves into the power of human dignity.