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Friday, August 19, 2011


TITLE: Mayday
AUTHOR: Nelson DeMille and Thomas Block
NARRATOR: Scott Brick
PUBLISHER: Hachette Audio
FORMAT: Unabridged - 11 Audio CDs, 13 hours and 15 minutes
GENRE: Thriller, Suspense
ISBN: 978-1611138375


Twelve miles above the Pacific Ocean, a missile strikes a jumbo passenger jet. The flight crew is crippled or dead. Now, defying both nature and man, three survivors must achieve the impossible. Land the plane. From master storyteller Nelson DeMille and master pilot Thomas Block comes Mayday, the classic bestseller that packs a supersonic shock at every turn of the page....the most terrifyingly realistic air disaster thriller ever. Like a growing tidal wave, the escaping air was gathering momentum. A teenaged girl in aisle 18, seat D, near the port-side aisle, her seat dislocated by the original impact, suddenly found herself gripping her seat track on the floor, her overturned seat still strapped to her body. The seatbelt failed and the seat shot down the aisle. She lost her grip and was dragged after it. Her eyes were filled with horror as she dug her nails into the carpet, as the racing air pulled her toward the yawning hole that led outside. Her cries were unheard by even those passengers who sat barely inches away from her struggle. The noise of the escaping air was so loud that it was no longer decipherable as sound, but seemed instead a solid thing pounding at the people in their seats...

 I received this audiobook for review from Hachette Audio. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.

This is my first DeMille novel, and it won't be my last! This heart-pounding thriller will have you gripping the edge of your seat!

I had no idea that this book was actually originally written in the 1970s. In order to update aviation procedures and technology, it was updated and re-released in the 1990s.

A commercial airliner (Trans-United Airlines' Stratton 797) is accidentally struck by a missile launched by the Navy during a secret (illegal) testing operation. Instead of hitting a drone target, the missile blows through one side of the passenger jet and out the other. Some passengers are immediately swept away out the holes of the jet and others are injured in the immediate aftermath but what happens next is what is most frightening: The complete depressurization of the cabin at an altitude of 60,000 feet has left the majority of passengers and crew brain-damaged except for the few that were in pressure-stable areas.

The hero of Mayday, passenger John Berry, is a salesman and "weekend" pilot that has only flown small planes. He is the only person aboard that is capable of attempting to land the plane. Assisted by Flight Attendant Sharon Crandall, the two must defy the odds in order to survive aboard Flight #52.


John Berry's only hope to land the Stratton is to have an expert pilot give him explicit landing instructions. John and Sharon manage to contact the airline's headquarters in San Francisco by data-link, which is a computer-messaging system. The vice-president of the company, Edward Johnson, and the company's insurance agent, Wayne Metz, intercept the SOS messages and concoct a plan to derail the Stratton's return to San Francisco, knowing that the payout to the families of nearly 300 brain-damaged individuals will put the company into financial ruin. They want to see the Stratton crash into the ocean, killing all survivors.

The Navy's Commander Sloan, wanting to hide the evidence of their illegal test operation, wants F-18 Pilot Peter Matos to sink the Stratton with the second missile which the Commander wants launched directly into the cockpit.

Not only does John Berry have to contend with government conspiracies, the brain-damaged passengers are "waking-up" due to the drop in altitude and their behaviour is becoming increasingly more violent.

Faults notwithstanding, you cannot help but root for John Berry. At every turn, obstacles are thrown his way but he keeps a clear head for the most part and perseveres. DeMille has created a flawed hero, but that is what makes him so likeable. Berry isn't perfect, which makes him easy to relate to.

But that's not the best part...where DeMille really shines is in his antagonists: Edward Johnson, Wayne Metz, and Commander Sloan are truly despicable. I can't recall when I last read a book containing antagonists who were more loathsome and vile. They are truly contemptible with total disregard for human life. Bravo, DeMille! I loved to hate these villains!

This is also my first experience with Scott Brick as narrator. I thought Brick did a fabulous job, and the urgency in his voice had my shoulders tensed. Brick softened his voice for the female voices, and his reading made it easy to distinguish between characters.

Fans of airline disasters and conspiracy theories will love this novel! If you have high blood pressure, listening to this audiobook is probably not a good idea because the action is pulse-pounding! Likewise, you wouldn't want to listen to this book while you are flying or if you plan to fly at any point in the near future or if you already have a fear of flying!

In the beginning of the audiobook, I had a little difficulty focusing on the extremely detailed aviation lingo. I think my eyes glazed over a bit, and that's the only reason why I'm not giving this 5/5 stars.

4.5 stars!! I loved it!! Thank you, Hachette Audio!

This book qualifies as:
#50 for my 2011 100+ Reading Challenge

#29 for my 2011 Audio Book Challenge

#29 for my 2011 "Whisper Stories in My Ear" Challenge


  1. I read this book a few years ago and enjoyed it very much. I also enjoyed reliving the book as I read your review.

  2. Excellent review of a great early work by DeMille and Block. It's interesting to note this is its second iteration in audiobook. A couple of years back, I listened to the older Books on Tape version, read by the venerable narrator Michael Prichard (he of the 'voice of God' style that works so well with non-fiction or military-based works). The rights must have been transferred to Hachette Audio for this year's re-release. I'm real curious now and wonder how Scott Brick would interpret this thriller. I might have to give this one a re-read (er... listen). Thanks.

  3. Thank you both, mike draper and le0pard13, for stopping by!

    @mike draper: I'm glad you enjoyed reliving the book! It was a good one!!

    @le0pard13: I have never heard a narration by Michael Prichard, so I cannot compare the two. This was my first narration by Scott Brick, and it is an intense thriller! I do recommend it!

  4. I thought this book was exciting but I didn't love it. I did love Scott Brick's narration!

    1. @bermudaonion: I wasn't sure what to expect, since this was my first DeMille novel. I ended up enjoying it more than I expected!


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