Sunday, February 3, 2013

Book review roundup

1.  The Passage by Justin Cronin:  An extremely well-constructed mashup of Stephen King's The Stand and the Will Smith version of I Am Legend.  There's very little here you probably haven't already seen in other classic horror thrillers, but the familiar elements are masterfully assembled.  And as a page turner, it's as good as it gets.  I read the 900 pages in less than a week, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. $8 at Amazon.

2.  The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian: A Brave New World meets The Hunger Games as a young woman living in an idyllic, but sterile utopia feels drawn to the savage men living outside her city's walls:

Twenty-four-year-old Natasha Wiley lives in America-Five—a high-tech, underground, utopian settlement where hunger and money do not exist, everyone has a job, and all basic needs are met. But when her mentor and colleague, Jeffrey, selects her to join a special team to venture Outside for the first time, Natasha’s allegiances to home, society, and above all to Jeffrey are tested. She is forced to make a choice that may put the people she loves most in grave danger and change the world as she knows it.
Fans of The Hunger Games should enjoy this, as it features the same formula of a brave young heroine navigating a love triangle and ethical dilemmas in a post-apocalyptic society.  The Office of Mercy is solid "young adult"-level fiction, with at least three enjoyable twists, but I was constantly distracted by the nonsensical discrepancies in technology necessary to drive the plot (the society essentially achieved immortality and the ability to grow new life, and entirely convincing virtual reality technology, but has security and monitoring technology equivalent to a 7-Eleven in the 1990's).  Also, the sexual relationship is a little perverse.  Preorder at Amazon.

3.  Complex 90 by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins: A globe-trotting adventure featuring classic pulp detective Mike Hammer battling an endless horde of Soviet assassins in Russia and the USA.  Not my favorite from the duo (I preferred The Consummata), but the too-brief scenes in Russia sparkle with fast-paced adventure and a truly memorable Russian seductress with stainless steel dentures.  Also, the colorful prose is fun throughout:
He'd been big, the male half of the Dragon team, a big, big, burly guy with Apache cheekbones, thick, black eyebrows over Slavic-cast eyes, a cruel slash of a mouth, and we'd fought in that barn to the near death, on top of each other like rutting beasts only we weren't creating life, we were trying to end it.
Available for preorder at Amazon.