The Journey by Conrad Jones #BookReview #BlogTour

One of the best books you will read this year. Outstanding!
A powerful and emotional read. The Journey is THE must-read thriller of 2019. 
The gripping story of a young boy and his family, driven from their home by war and indiscriminate violence. Like millions of others, they attempt the treacherous journey across their war-torn continent, trying to reach the safety of Europe. 
The truth is, Europe doesn’t want them and thousands die every month at the hands of thieves and profiteering men to whom life is cheap.
The story is fast-paced, at times funny, at times heart-breaking but it will pull you along at 100 miles an hour. It will make you think and it will make you question your perceptions.
Most of all it will make you ask if your family was in peril, what would you do?

It's my pleasure to be one of the hosts for the blog tour for The Journey by Conrad Jones today, alongside my fellow bloggers, Suze at Simply Suze Reviews and Lesley at The Bookwormery. Many thanks to the author, publishers and Sarah Hardy from BOTBS Publicity for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

The refugee crisis is a subject that is very close to my heart. My brother has worked with refugees and asylum seekers for many years, currently with the Aid Box Community in Bristol and I previously helped him raise money to build and send a fire truck to the refugee camp which became known as the Calais Jungle. The Journey might be a fictional story but the experiences of the characters will be reflected in the lives of the millions of people who have been displaced from their homes by war and violence.

The book opens with a ten-year-old boy, Beb and his friends walking home. Although they are just ordinary young boys, it's immediately clear that the shadow of conflict hangs over them. They discuss the effect of migration on their community, with sub-Saharan migrants driven into the border towns in the north of Nigeria by civil war and sectarian violence. Beb's friend, Gamyu is angry with the incomers, blaming them for his father losing his job as men from Mali are hired for half the wages. He wonders why they have to come to their town. Beb explains that his father says it is because of Boko Haram attacking villages and towns but Gamyu still has little sympathy, declaring that his father would kill them. Beb isn't so sure, his father has told him they are very bad men but he still thinks that grown-ups worry too much, despite the news reports about the unrest moving closer to town.

The vehicles that tear past them, almost out of control and the fact that they have been sent home from school early should be an early indication of trouble but Beb and his friends realise too late and the first instance of violence is brief but shocking. Boko Haram have come to Monguno and the lives of his family will never be the same again. The first few chapters of the book follows the perspective of various characters, including the members of Beb's family, showing what each of them are doing when the extremist militia arrive. His mother, Esse is sewing in a workshop and as the matriarch figure there feels she has to set an example despite being desperate to run to her family. Her three daughters, Oke, Isime and Kissie are particularly in danger of being taken to be raped and sold as sex slaves. Meanwhile, Beb's father, Kalu has long feared the invasion and has made plans for his family's escape but with them separated and held at gunpoint, he faces an agonising decision.

They do manage to make an audacious escape from Monguno but others aren't so lucky, particularly those in a village populated by Christians. The violence here is horrifically cruel as the supposedly devout Islamic terrorists unleash their fury on those who practise a different religion. From here, the book follows Kalu and his family as they desperately try to find a way to secure passage to Europe. He once worked as a doctor in London and at first plans to travel to Morocco and fly from there. As the book progresses, however, they are constantly forced to change their plans; the dangers of the people-trafficking Tuareg tribes in the Sahara who roam the desert like pirates, hijacking convoys mean they decide to head for Chad instead but Boko Harum are powerful and on the move. Before long, it seems that nowhere is safe and the family's options are increasingly narrowed down until they have very little choice about where to go.

As well as the dangers posed by the militia, they are also confronted by the sad realisation that when scores of people are desperately in need of help, there are also many who seek to profit from their misery. The price of petrol, rooms and bribes all increase as people realise the desperate will pay anything in their time of need. Kalu is an intelligent man who tries to avoid being ripped off but even he cannot escape having to hand over large quantities of his precious funds in his attempt to reach the safety of Europe. With a truck loaded with food and fuel, they are also targets for opportunistic thieves and this peaceful man is forced to become somebody else, driven to abject despair by their traumatic experiences as they become ever more despondent and willing to accept any risks if it means they can escape to Europe.

It's not just the terrorists, thieves and people traffickers they have to fear, however. Man's inhumanity to man extends to those in charge of our laws and the decision by Western governments to create Fortress Europe, an inhospitable continent where ferry routes have been blocked forcing refugees to make the decision to make the perilous journey in vessels that are dangerously overloaded and not remotely seaworthy has resulted in untold misery. The bodies that are pulled from the Mediterranean every year are a direct result of these policies; as Warsan Shire wrote, 'No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark' and Kalu's story is a harrowing example of exactly this. I became so invested in the lives of this family and read much of this tense and compelling novel with my heart in my mouth and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The Journey isn't an easy read; it's a heartbreaking and often distressing call to attention about what is happening to our fellow humans as our collective complicity has allowed these people -  who are forced to flee their homes through no fault of their own - to become separated from their loved ones and to die in their millions. There are uplifting moments too, where the kindness of a stranger reminds Kalu and his family - and the reader -  that although there is tremendous evil in the world,  there are still good people prepared to help those in need. A shocking, completely engrossing and highly emotional story about one of the most important topics of our time; The Journey is a painfully necessary book which should be read by everyone.

The Journey can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Conrad Jones a 52-year-old Author, living in Holyhead, Anglesey, which I class as my home, before starting a career as a trainee manger with McDonalds Restaurants in 1989. I worked in management at McDonalds Restaurants Ltd from 1989-2002, working my way up to Business Consultant (area manager) working in the corporate and franchised departments.

In March 1993 I was managing the Restaurant in Warrington`s Bridge St when two Irish Republican Army bombs exploded directly outside the store, resulting in the death of two young boys and many casualties. Along with hundreds of other people there that day I was deeply affected by the attack, which led to a long-term interest in the motivation and mind set of criminal gangs. I began to read anything crime related that I could get my hands on.

I link this experience with the desire to write books on the subject, which came much later due to an unusual set of circumstances. Because of that experience my early novels follow the adventures of an elite counter terrorist unit, The Terrorist Task Force, and their leader, John Tankersley, or `Tank`and they are the Soft Target Series, which have been described by a reviewer as ‘Reacher on steroids’.  

I had no intentions of writing until 2007, when I set off on an 11-week tour of the USA. The Day before I boarded the plane, Madeleine Mcann disappeared and all through the holiday I followed the American news reports which had little or no information about her. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the terrible kidnap would inspire my book, The Child Taker years later. During that trip, I received news that my house had been burgled and my work van and equipment were stolen. That summer was the year when York and Tewksbury were flooded by a deluge and insurance companies were swamped with claims. They informed me that they couldn’t do anything for weeks and that returning home would be a wasted journey. Rendered unemployed on a beach in Clearwater, Florida, I decided to begin my first book, Soft Target. I have never stopped writing since. I have recently completed my 20th novel, The Journey, something that never would have happened but for that burglary and my experiences in Warrington.

As far as my favourite series ever, it has to be James Herbert’s, The Rats trilogy. The first book did for me what school books couldn’t. It fascinated me, triggered my imagination and gave me the hunger to want to read more. I waited years for the second book, The Lair, and Domain, the third book to come out and they were amazing. Domain is one of the best books I have ever read. In later years, Lee Child, especially the early books, has kept me hypnotised on my sunbed on holiday as has Michael Connelley and his Harry Bosch Series.  
Facebook   Twitter


  1. Thanks so much for being on the blog tour today Karen x


Post a Comment