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07 May 2010

Review: Beyond the Basin by Alexander Beiner

Title: Beyond the Basin
Author: Alexander Beiner
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd
Publication Date: July 9, 2009
Paperback: 368 pages
ISBN: 978-1848761384
Genre: Fiction

About the novel:

In a shallow basin of water, separated from a vast ocean by a narrow isthmus, two children play secretly. Behind them lies a dense rainforest in which two communities wait divided. One is an undiscovered shamanic tribe deep in the forest, the other a Franciscan mission. Both children were born into the tribe, but only one has stayed.

Half-way across the world, a young journalist follows them in his dreams, waking up each morning with no recollection of what he has seen. In his waking life, he begins to feel the tug of an unfamiliar and alien emotion, something telling him to leave his life and seek something else.

As the two worlds intertwine, the journalist risks everything to discover the secrets of the mission, where something is happening that could destroy the children and sweep him into oblivion.

Beyond the Basin is a journey into the beauty and complexity of spiritual awakening. Exploring the social and metaphysical implications of humanity's oldest forms of spiritual practice, it seeks to unravel some of the mystery around our inner worlds.

My Review:

I could gloss over my review and merely state how well author Alexander Beiner wrote about shamanism and mystics as well as alternative medications while his main character visited South America, which he did. However, I am going to be straightforward and quite direct in saying Beyond the Basin by Alexander Beiner was not a novel I enjoyed at all, in fact I disagree with many of the premises he writes about. With that stated up front, Beyond the Basin is a well thought out, thought provoking, and apparently (although I can neither confirm nor deny this) well researched novel which delves into shamanism, mysticism, and alternative drugs. Beyond the Basin is written with beautiful imagery and vivid descriptions that easily bring the reader into the novel. Where did the novel go wrong for me personally? Without giving much of the novel away, it is well written, as stated, simply one I fundamentally disagree with. The main character, Alex is well off, educated and has spent his adult life researching and trying various psychedelic drugs. Alex believes society is complacent, that society has been programmed by the government to be this way, and Alex believes mother nature anticipated this turn of events and created wonderful psychedelic drugs to help de-programme society. His friend Seb, also a college graduate chooses to sell drugs and supplements his income by working odd jobs, as he does not wish to be held down by society, to conform to the 9-5 working world. Terra is the most rational of the three friends and it is through her urging Alex accepts a full-time job. However I could not relate to Alex, Seb, or Terra. Within a few weeks at his job Alex is asked to go on assignment to South America to cover for a journalist who recently passed away. It is in South America where Beiner brings the reader deeper into the world of mysticism, shamanism, and alternative medicines. The two tribes in South America were fascinating to read about, yet were not enough to make me truly enjoy this book. Had the novel been about the two tribes, one deeply embedded in shamanism and the other learning the ways of Catholicism, I would have truly enjoyed such an anthropological read. While Beyond the Basin is a thought-provoking novel, it is not one I could in good conscience recommend. However, if one is looking for a novel about psychedelics, mystics, shamans, and alternative medicines with the added element of fantasy, Beyond the Basin may be of interest.

I received a complimentary copy of Beyond the Basin by Alexander Beiner from Readers Choice Reviews to be read and offer my honest review of the novel. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.


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