Good Book, Bad Title—The Fish Factory, Book Review

2014 March 26

I know, I know. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Book Review image of The Fish Factory Book by L. Gilbert PayneIn this case… REALLY don’t judge this book by its cover!

The cover art made me think the book was well… not gonna be great. It’s overly amateur, like your uncle might have asked you to read his novel and then you have to try not to lie about it? The title isn’t helping either. Makes me think of frozen fish nuggets.


The Fish Factory: The Story and Life of a Young Man and His Daring Mission as a Marine in the Aleutian Islands during World War II—By L. Gilbert Payne


I agreed to read this book mainly because in the description the main character is from South-Eastern Idaho… ahem… I’m From South-Eastern Idaho!

The Fish Factory tells the story of a fresh faced young farm kid who is a newly enlisted soldier in the marines during World War II. The secret training grounds where he is sent in the Alaskan Islands are nicknamed The Fish Factory by the young soldiers.

I always tell the nice PR folks when they ask me to read a book (or look at any product for that matter) that I reserve the right to NOT read, write, use, rave or otherwise share about the item, especially if I don’t like it.

In this case, despite the strange title and cartoon polar bear…  I found myself in dire need of something to read on a long flight. My Kindle App was empty and lonely. And not too long ago I read Unbreakable by Laura Hillenbrand and I was totally willing to read another story taking place during WWII despite the fact that I totally judged this book’s cover.


I read the whole book in about 4 total air-hours. And liked it!

My favorite part of the book is early in the story our young hero finds himself challenged to be the first recruit to gain access to the training camp ‘Honor Book’. But he has to acquire the book without anyone noticing he’s done it, all while the book and the building it’s housed in is heavily guarded. He gathers a team of 3 other recruits and methodically thwarts the guards as well as any of the officers who might be watching him and steals the book out from under their noses in just a couple days. I was hooked. This Isn’t just any old farm boy. This kid is smart and kind and I wanted to know just what this Daring Mission was all about mentioned in the title of the book?

My GoodNCrazy Rating: 3.5 Stars

The writing is quite good & very readable.  The story is compelling and the main character is likeable and well described. Several other characters in this boy’s life are also brought to life and intriguing. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the rugged Idaho Teton terrain. The story setting is split between his Idaho home and several Aleutian Islands.

“Late September in the Tetons is like a giant oil painting with all its colors fully in display, glistening proudly one more time in the morning sun despite knowing that soon they would need to give way to the rugged winter snows.” – The Fish Factory

The main thing keeping me from giving this a higher rating is that while the story is fascinating and you really like the characters… the whole thing is a bit too ‘sweet’. (A Truth? I cried when he is home on leave and his doting family show how much they miss and fear for him while he’s gone.) My apologies to my seat mate for the blubbering.

I don’t need disgusting or gritty to enjoy a book. But this kid is so sweet and so smart and so brave and so patriotic, it’s distracting, he’s simply unrealistic. The overall storyline is believable and interesting—even with an Aleut Shaman who tricks people into believing he has turned himself into a polar bear for Pete’s Sake!

By the end it was all slightly too predictable for my taste. His father is a good but ‘tough’ man. His mother is perfect, his girlfriend and his dog are equally loyal (and kinda boring). There’s a bit of mystery surrounding the old farmhand and for a second you see a glimpse of realistic humanity.

All that was needed to complete the perfect storybook ending for this shiny bright farm boy turned courageous soldier was for him to return and marry the girl waiting dutifully for him back at the farm.

But I really did like this book.
And I have a few friends who love WWII stories that will totally like it.

I Hate Pointing Out The Negatives…

Who am I to criticize an author?! I’m no writer… just thinking about writing a novel, developing characters and all the conversational writing gives me hives. But I love reading and everyone’s a critic right?

I suggest you buy the eBook on for only $3.99. It’s definitely worth the money. And I will say Matt’s solo military adventure in the Aleutian Islands with pretty much only his wits and sugar sweet character will keep your next in-flight light on while you finish it!

The author is writing a second book and I’m hoping he takes a few risks with his characters.
Give them just ONE imperfect characteristic, I’m begging!

Disclaimer: I was given this book to read if I chose at no cost to me.
I was not expected to write about it. My opinions and in-flight reading emergencies are my own.
NOTE: Contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

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