I have gathered all the readers' reviews I can find, good or bad, from various places on the web, and reproduce them here at the risk of infringing the reviewers' copyright - if you have written one of these and object, please email me and I'll take it down right away.
If you have landed on this page from a search engine, you may prefer to see the main page for The Penal Colony.
Reviews at Amazon.com
Reviews at Amazon.co.uk
From the Sony Reader Store
This is not the type I would normally choose to read
Posted May 09, 2011 by Nancy, Columbus, OH
I have to admit...I downloaded it because it had 4 stars and was free. I figured that if I didn't have the book I was wanting to read at the time, I may take a look at it...which is exactly what I did. I found myself drawn into the story in a very short period of time and was hooked. I had to know what was happening next. I found it to be the type to project your very own thoughts into. What would I do in this situation? I loved it and have recommended it to friends and family. Thank you for providing this lovely novel.
Posted March 27, 2011 by Rhonda, Englewood, CO
This story kept you wanting to know more. This is a good read and was fast to get through. Kind of graphic but thats good story telling. Loved the ending.
Interesting and thought provoking
Posted February 23, 2011 by Art, Dumont, NJ
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. After 30 pages it pulled me back causing me to not want to put it down. If you spend a bit of time thinking about the characters and their situations, for me at least, it created
many introspective beliefs and thoughts to be challenged and modified. Thanks for the great read.
Tim Danton, PC Pro, 29 December 2011
A gripping read from start to finish, this novel depicts an all-too-conceivable situation where Britain despatches its most dangerous prisoners to remote islands. Think of it as Lord of the Flies for adults. The Penal Colony is based on Sert, where The Village is the pinnacle of island culture: hot water, limited electricity and a direct link with the prison authorities make it the best place to live. But, as our arrogant protagonist Routledge discovers, you have to earn your place: when he arrives, insisting himself innocent of the murder of a young woman he met on a train, he’s told he can only be allowed in if he survives six days on the outside. But it doesn’t take him long to be captured by the biggest psychopath on the island…
James Berghout 16 Mar 2008
The story is one that fascinated me from the start. With the state of the prison system in the U.S., I have naturally wondered what would happen if convicts were placed on an island to work things out for themselves. This is a fascinating study into human nature and the nature of civilization in a vacuum. It also makes one grateful for many significant and insignificant luxuries we live with each day.
As for the writing and the story, you can’t ask for more. Mr. Herley is a writer in charge of his craft. The plot progresses steadily and the characters are developed carefully and expertly. I like a story that has deep and meaningful characters.
Paul Emil 11 May 2011
In the near future, Britain dumps prisoners on a remote island in the north Atlantic and leaves them to fend for themselves. A group of smart prisoners plan an escape from the “inescapable” island, which is under high-tech satellite surveillance. They have to beat the system and the jealous, violent gangs of “outsiders” who live outside of their camp.
This story is a nail-biter. When I finished the last page, I exhaled. I felt like I had just had sex. The sensation was a mixture of pleasure, relief, and satisfaction.
Dan Moore 19 May 2010
Surprisingly few books have approached the idea of prison dynamics with the same ingenuity as Herley in this admirably creative novel which fuses an exciting premise with sophisticated writing and honest characters. It's a sort of Lord of the Flies meets Robinson Crusoe meets Count of Monte Cristo meets Papillon (and a host of others); and yet it carries off its own identity perfectly, promoting a well-cooked idea combined with grounded thematic concepts in a story which bristles with allegory and symbolism. Man vs. nature, instinct vs. reason, captivity vs. freedom, crime & punishment, oppression & redemption, etc. are all played out in the context. The book is worthy entertainment simply as a adventure/survival tale though and should disappoint absolutely no one.
Fictionmonster 18 Aug 2009
Brilliant novel, well worth a read :) Also, you can make a donation to the author at his website http://www.richardherley.com if you liked this and his other books.
cbell2 Aug 2009
I read and enjoyed 'Refuge' and came back here looking for more offerings from Richard Herley. I've now read 'The Penal Colony' (in just 2 sittings). These 2 books stand alone.
I found both books had a similar theme - a man on his own, doing the best he can in situations not of his choosing, finding unexpected strength and forced to make difficult decisions.
The correct order to read The Pagans trilogy is 'The Stone Arrow', 'The Flint Lord', then 'The Earth Goddess'.
If you enjoy these books, stop by the author's website and leave a donation http://www.richardherley.com/
Thanks for making your books available to us as ebooks, Richard!
Charlou 29 Jun 2009
L'histoire commence par le réveil d'un homme plutôt cultivé, John Routledge dans une bicoque rustique. Cet homme est ligoté, attaché, et pense avoir été drogué et inconscient. Un homme lui apprend qu'il se trouve sur l'île pénitentiaire de Sert, une île pour détenus de catégorie Z, la pire. Son histoire lui revient rapidement : une rencontre fugace dans le train avec une femme, retrouvée morte par la suite, des preuves l'accablant. Un procès sans appel, un séjour dans une prison sur le continent avant ce transfert vers Sert par hélicoptère. Il pense être innocent, et se retrouve plongé dans cet enfer.
Il se rend compte qu'il est arrivé dans une sorte de société organisée, le Village, régenté par un homme appelé le Père, et qu'avant qu'il puisse potentiellement en faire partie, il devra passer six jours à l'extérieure de l'enceinte du Village, sans aide, six jours de survie en compagnie des détenus qui eux n'ont pas été admis dans le village, ou en ont été chassés. Il a à peine le temps de récupérer un couteau, une parka, et le voilà à l'extérieur dans la grisaille de l'île britannique, sachant qu'au moins deux autres communautés existent sur l'île... et seraient à éviter.
Et dès cet instant le livre plonge dans une sorte de régression de la société, dans cet univers carcéral coupé du monde où tout se réinvente. On oublie bien facilement que l'histoire est quasi contemporaine, on pourrait croire qu'elle se situe à un âge sombre de l'an mil. C'est en ce sens que j'ai vraiment été passionné par le livre. L'adaptation des détenus, les uns dans un semblant de ville organisée, comme une seconde chance d'être respectables, les autres redevenus à l'état sauvage, ou organisés selon le modèle de la tribu primitive, où la loi du plus fort est la seule qui existe.
L'administration pénitentiaire laisse ces hommes à leur déchéance et leur destin, ne faisant qu'apporter un ravitaillement régulier par hélicoptère à ceux du Village, dans une sorte d'entente tacite, mais leur empêchant quoi qu'il en soit toute fuite possible, à la fois par la rudesse et la difficulté de l'île de Sert et de sa mer elle même, et par un espionnage constant : satellite, radars, hélicoptère. L'île n'en est pas moins un mouroir organisé, hors de tout respect des droits humains.
Bref, cela va être une histoire de survie, un apprentissage et une initiation pour Routledge au respect des autres, de ce qu'ils sont devenus malgré leur passé... et un moyen de garder l'espoir de vivre comme un Homme, et pourquoi pas l'espoir de ne pas finir ses jours sur cette île.
J'ai vraiment apprécié ce livre. Je vous le recommande. Vous pouvez le trouver sur feedbooks, ou sur le site de l'auteur, directement. Sur celui-ci il est possible de faire un don à l'auteur si le cœur vous en dit et si le plaisir a été au rendez-vous, ce que j'ai personnellement fait. Je ne sais pas ce que donne cette politique d'auto édition, il serait d'ailleurs utile que je pose la question à l'auteur, mais la démarche est en tous cas intéressante et je la soutiens.
grimo1re 27 May 2009
I loved this book. The story is great, you will want to keep reading. The characters are well developed and very real. I can definitely recommend this book.
Gilmartin 24 Jan 2009
A dystopian future in the best British traditions of Nigel Kneale, a kind of "Lord of the Flies" with adults, Mr Herley has a firm grasp of all that is wrong with Britain, the "litter-strewn mediocrity" that it has become and the increasing desperation of successive governments as they plunge into ever more drastic "solutions" to these problems.
Incredibly good writing. I will be reading the rest of his output immediately!
reader62 22 Jan 2009
Great book, I could hardly put it down. Mr Herley publishes his books as ebooks because he wants to, obviously not because he has to!! My congratulations to him, his books are great.
JenniferLW 9 Dec 2008
Excellent book. Couldnt put it down. Well done.
Benjamin 24 Nov 2008
The first time I read The Penal Colony was 1998 or so; I spotted a well-used paperback copy in a pile of abandoned belongings at a college dormitory. I took it, began to read, and was instantly absorbed. I was blown away by the story, the characters, and through it all the language: sometimes sharp and precise, other times poetic, always compelling and memorable. I consider myself a fairly well-read person, in terms of classic literature as well as modern best-sellers, and without hesitation, I put The Penal Colony on my "Desert Island List" of ten books that I would take with me to my own exile on Sert.
Up until a few years ago, this book was hard to find: out of print (at least in the USA), and precious little information available on the internet. Now it's here, easy and inexpensive to download, and it's an absolute gem of a book. The ideas, situations and characters will stay with you for life.
cmbs 4 Oct 2008
In this story an innocent man is sent to a penal colony on murder charges. The colony is an island where there is no supervision at all, the prisoners are dropped there and left to fend for themselves. The only time the government takes notice is when something happens that might bring the world's attention to what they are doing with the prisoners.
I liked the book and plan to read some other books by the same author.
whiterabbit 9 May 2008
Excellently written and engaging story. It immersed me in a nightmarish world of violence and devastated hopes. Each dramatic event drags you further into the landscape. When I finally put the book down, I found part of me remained in that landscape for a long time.
It was beautifully written and a very insightful story, delving into the meaning of freedom and what it does to a person when those freedoms we take for granted are ripped away. Also begs the question how free are any of us really? On some levels the character finds himself more free on the island than when he lived in "society". But when all is said and done it is a journey into unbearable lawlesness. Fantastic read!
jamjam 2 Apr 2008
Well as an avid non-fiction reader, I decided to explore some fiction works. I was not disappointed. This was so engaging and immersive I felt as if I was at the penal colony. Amazing book! Well done sir, well done.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully engaging suspense, November 27, 2000
By A Customer
A great book! If you like just about anything, give this book a try. Great characters, a compelling story, David vs. Goliath! Everything a great book needs...it hits on all cylinders. The sensory descriptions are just about perfect, I feel as though I've been to Sert. If I met John Anthony Rutledge on the street, it's like I know him like an old friend. Get this and read it!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome read, June 4, 2000
By Mark Lieberman "markdl17" (S.A., TX)
A great futuristic prison book. Once you start reading, you won't be able to put it down. Lots of action and excellent dialogue. The movie No Escape was based on the book. However, the book is tens times better. Enjoy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the movie, May 17, 2007
By Vinaya Manmohansingh (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad/Tobago)
A thoroughly gripping story of life in a grim world. Reading it you just slide into the isolation and desperation of the island prison. There was a movie based upon it, No Way Out with Ray Liotta, that wasn't bad, but the book is even better.
From the iTunes store:
Slow starter, worth the wait though
by Laura Martin
Took me a while to get into this book and you can tell the author has an interest in natural history by the sometimes lengthy descriptions of wildlife and/ or landscape. Once the story gets going though I was hooked and finished the last hundred pages at every opportunity as I couldn't wait to see what happened next! There is something of a 'Lost' quality about the story with the men on the island managing to fashion ingenious devices out of the materials available to them. All in all I really enjoyed this book even though as a woman I may not have been the anticipated audience!
by El Malabarista
What a great surprise!! This is a great novel and i would advise all to read it. The author has a great understanding of how desperately thin is this veneer of civilisation we cling to.
Possibly the most well written book I have ever read. I had a genuine lump in my throat and a tear running down my cheek at one point, I just cannot believe it is free!! I would happily of paid for this book. I will definitely be recommending it to friends.