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Alpha (Jad Bell #1)

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  1,194 Ratings  ·  185 Reviews
For the visitors to Wilsonville, the largest theme park in the world, the day begins with a smile. But, by the end, they start to wonder: will they escape with their lives? Undercover Delta Force operator, Master Sergeant Jonathan “Jad” Bell has been deployed to act as Wilsonville’s lead undercover security officer. The threat begins with the announcement of a hidden dirty ...more
Published May 22nd 2012 (first published January 1st 2012)
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Matt Brady
Apr 23, 2014 Matt Brady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
This is Die Hard in Disneyland, and is exactly as enjoyable and fun as that sounds. It's a big 80's action movie, the sort I love, updated for modern times in novel form. If opening a book by showing a man in a Goofy suit pulling out a knife and attacking an undercover military operative sounds hilarious to you, you'll probably like Alpha.

It isn't played as a joke though. That's part of the charm. Everything is very straight-faced. There's lots of military jargon and realpolitik, an ageing Veter
Jun 07, 2012 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Greg Rucka's Alpha rachets up the tension and thrills by having terrorist seize a world famous amusement park and threaten a group of hostages with instant death and the country as a whole with the detonation of a dirty bomb. The terrorists are convincing led by a deep sleeper agent, Gabriel Fuller, a former Odessan gangster, who was planted in the United States seven years previously. After stints in the US Army and a college education, Fuller, once activated swiftly obeys the commands of his h ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Alpha is a tense, suspense-filled story. Admittedly, I was bit thrown by the present tense format. I'm not a huge fan of that. I prefer past tense narrative. Otherwise, I have to say that Rucka has another success on his hands. I've been reading almost every graphic novel by his I can get my hands on, because he knows what he's doing. This is my first official prose book by him. He can write just as good without illustrations to tell the story.

I found myself feeling very sympathetic towards the
Jun 07, 2012 Jake rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
FFFFFFFTTTTTTT. That's the sound of ALPHA entering and leaving my consciousness. It's like a mind-fart, but without the stink. You'd remember the stink.

Rucka's first four Atticus Kodiak books and his Queen & Country comics bought him enough goodwill that I'll always read his stuff. But, man, it's been a while since a Rucka novel slapped me in the heartplace like SHOOTING AT MIDNIGHT or A GENTLEMEN'S GAME did. It's not that ALPHA was bad. It just...was. Fun enough, I guess, despite the fact t
May 27, 2012 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I was 12 years old in the summer of 1988, but early into it I remember seeing TV commercials for a movie that looked pretty interesting. It was an action movie that looked intense, but it had the guy from “Moonlighting” in it, so that was a little weird. I still wanted to see it though and several weeks later I did. That movie was of course “Die Hard,” which spawned an almost whole new sub-genre of action films. The original of that genre is still the best though. I loved “Die Hard” and to this
Jeff Shelby
Jun 14, 2012 Jeff Shelby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought this was fantastic. Read it in a day. Rucka has flown under the radar as a novelist for too long - his Kodiak series is one of the best in crime fiction, but probably one of the least appreciated - but this is a top-notch thriller that deserves a huge audience. The amusement park setting is great, Jad Bell is a terrific hero and the pacing is brilliant. A thriller in every way.
"Die Hard" at ersatz Disney World. Fun, though I could have done without the opening bit where our 40something hero is banging the 20yo barista, especially since it has absolutely no bearing on the story whatsoever.
Feb 09, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an exciting book! It's like Die Hard at an amusement park. I loved the setting and storyline. I will definitley be reading more of Rucka's books in the future. I also liked the mention of Odessa in the book since that is my daughter's name. :)
Simon McDonald
In both his prose and comics work, Greg Rucka's strength has always been his masterful characterization of the broad range of protagonists he's played with, regardless of whether they're company-owned or his own creations. Not taking anything away from his precise plotting and meticulous research, but those things count for naught if your characters are one-dimensional, cardboard cutouts of the genre. When Rucka signed a book deal with Mulholland Books, I was genuinely excited to jump on board R ...more
Jun 17, 2012 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alpha takes more time to get into than other books of its ilk but that time ends up being well worth it. At first, I couldn't help thinking the book lacked focus and clarity. As a fan of Greg Rucka's prior work, I was almost disappointed. But as a Rucka fan I should have known better. After the first 100 pages or so, Rucka hits his stride and Alpha becomes a thrill ride moving at breakneck speed, with non-stop action and intrigue and attention to detail on a level that is frankly inconceivable. ...more
Michael Sherer
Jul 06, 2012 Michael Sherer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ALPHA is an adrenaline-fueled rocket-sled ride through a Southern California amusement park that has become a terrorist target. Former soldier Jonathan "Jad" Bell is trying to start a new life in Alaska after his divorce when his commanding officer shows up to offer him a job as deputy director of park safety in a Disney-esque amusement park near L.A. As soon as he takes the job, Bell senses that something will happen, and when his deaf daughter Athena calls him via computer to tell him she and ...more
34/292 - Ex military guy takes over security at a Disney-like theme park. 'Diehard at Disney'? Seems very authentic or researched. Rucka also writes for DC comics.

91/292 - Moving along swimmingly. I'm not too interested in a lot of villain details. Not much action yet except for a flashback.

171/292 - Shots fired. In the thick of it now. I've found I'm a sucker for military slang. ('Alpha' is code for 1st floor.) Succinct prose. Sometimes I get a little confused. Would make a smart action movie.
Nov 14, 2013 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Wilsonville is the largest theme park in the world. It was built to compete with the Disney theme parks. Visitors are amazed at the variety of activities available to them. However, its very popularity makes it a prime terrorist target, and now a sleeper cell has been sent to make an example of it. Retired Delta Force operator, Master Sergeant Jonathan "Jad" Bell, is Wilsonville's lead undercover security officer. The threat announced is of a hidden dirty bomb. But this is only a front. Hostages ...more
Jul 18, 2014 Zedsdead rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrorists attack Disneyland Wilsonville. A special ops team must take them down, disarm the dirty bomb, and save the hostages. You know, the usual.

Very action-oriented. Basically a 292-page strategic and tactical blueprint for how to run an anti-terror operation in a theme park. Rucka is very very good at this stuff...

...but in this case he relied on coincidence to a surprising and unfortunate extent to drive the story. Hero's daughter just happens to show up on Terrorism Day, and Chief Bad Gu
Jul 15, 2012 Ctgt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action
I have read all the books in the Atticus Kodiak series and really enjoyed Walking Dead. So I had high hopes for this new series/character. I did like the book , but it didn't blow me away. I thought the character development for Jad was a little thin. I'm not sure if that was done on purpose and Rucka will flesh him out in later novels or if he intended to leave things vague. I know a certain amount of mystery about a character's past can be intriguing, but I found myself wishing the book had be ...more
May 25, 2012 Glenj rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-boiled
Read this in one sitting, its the perfect summer book if you're looking for a good new action series. It doesn't reinvent the wheel nor does Rucka try to. The book is essentially Die Hard in an amusement park, in place of John McClaine is Jad Bell, former special forces hired to take over security for the largest amusement park in the country which if course, happens to be the site of a terrorist attack. Yeah, that doesn't sound too original but Rucka's moves the plot along like a speeding bulle ...more
Laz the Sailor
I love Greg Rucka books! But not this one. Aside from some very clever bits in some of the scenes, this was very straight-forward. You pretty much knew who was going to die and who was the bad guy. As always the technical details were just right, without being annoying. The emotional content of the characters was very limited. A fun summer romp, but not up to the high Rucka standard.

PS: This was published well after A Deeper Blue which shares the theme park setting. I kept waiting for the Keldar
David Dalton
As a fan of Rucka's Queen & Country series, I thought I would give Alpha a shot. Sounded good, Die Hard meets Disney Land so to speak. Except Jad Bell is not the wrong guy in the wrong place, he is the right guy in the right place.

I liked this thriller, plenty of action and I like Jad and his crew. I would have liked a little more interaction at the end. It sure leads the way to Bravo. Which I will probably get once it comes under $9 or so.
Jun 17, 2012 Therese rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: setting-usa
Ok book for what it is but not a memorable read. Plus, the last couple of pages have "sequel" stamped all over them! I may try another book by this author but I'm not going out of my way to find him.
Jul 31, 2012 Hobart rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
Well-written, expertly paced, taut, tense, intricately plotted, gripping action, etc., etc., etc. Couldn't be a better written thriller. And yet, I never -- not for one second -- found myself giving a rip. No idea why, but it just left me apathetic.
Ian Wood
Jun 19, 2014 Ian Wood rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's novels reviewed on the blog will generally have some images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a novel is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate a nove
Dec 12, 2012 Miles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This is a fast paced thriller that gets the job done nicely. I read it mostly to study the art of building a story. If you're going to write, you have to pay attention to the craft.

As a reader I found it difficult to follow this book (like many that I read) in terms of the spatial relationships and the visual appearance of the cartoon characters. Clearly Rucka had a map of his world (the theme park) in his mind and was moving his charcters around it. I never had the slightest sense that I knew
M.E. Kinkade
The fundamental premise of this book is: What would happen if terrorists attacked Disney World?

But, of course, using Disney World would have gotten Rucka sued to the Magical Kingdom and back, so the story here focuses on "WilsonVille," an uncannily similar Not-Disney park.

Our protagonist, Jad, is a former Special Ops leader who has just gotten out when he is called back in for a mysterious mission. He takes a job as head of park security at WilsonVille--there have been whispers that trouble may
Jun 02, 2012 J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've mentioned before how Greg Rucka makes me re-evaluate the quality of my own writing because he makes it seem so easy. His level of dedication to detail and pacing makes me sit in wonder. With Alpha, he starts the first installment of a planned new trilogy centered around aging military operative Jad Bell in a somewhat absurd setting, telling the story of a terrorist plot set within the confines of a Disneyland analog called WilsonVille where armed terrorists take over the park and make the u ...more
Peter Derk
Not my favorite Rucka book, but not a bad read either.

This does contain one of my absolute favorite action movie moments, which is the part where two dudes in an office have this argument regarding embedded agents (paraphrased):

"If those men make a move, the terrorists will start shooting! The hostages won't have a chance!

"Those men are the only chance those hostages have!"

I feel that, as a society, we should make a decision regarding this situation now, in the sober light of day, before our fri
Toni Osborne
Jun 28, 2012 Toni Osborne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a fantastic start to a new series, a lean and mean thriller featuring protagonist Jonathan “Jad” Bel, a former master sergeant in the U.S. Army’s Delta Force counterterrorism unit and now employed as a lead undercover security officer at an amusement park. Rumour has it terrorists with nuclear capability are plotting to target Wilsonville, a theme park in Southern California similar to Disneyland.

The story is tight, the action is well written, fast paced and it all takes place in
Apr 15, 2012 Jodi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whiling away time in Skagway, Alaska, Master Sergeant Jonathan “Jad” Bell, a Delta Force operative finds himself in a conversation with Colonel Daniel Ruiz and being offered a job. He’s back in action. An undercover operative has been murdered in the world’s largest theme park, placed there after rumors surface of a possible action against the U. S.

Hired on as Deputy Director of Wilsonville Park Security, Jad has access to the technology required to keep an eye on the park and any hint of hinky
Ramon Francisco
Mar 21, 2015 Ramon Francisco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-reads, rucka
A very tight novel which you will not want to put down! Despite the urgency in its pages Alpha was evidently carefully designed and successful in all fronts. There is not a wasted word in scenes or dialogue and reveals a master storyteller.

I've often seen this novel described by a high concept: Die Hard in Disneyland. Wrong! It is true that terrorists take over the WilsonVille amusement park, where all the action takes place in a short span of hours, but the author eschews any over the top heroi
Lianne Burwell
Much like another book I read recently (The Third Gate by Lincoln Child) Alpha reads like the middle book in a series, but in fact is the first book (although the subtitle of 'A Jad Bell Novel' indicates that there will be more books to come). You figure out along the way that Jad Bell is a special forces type operative, and he is divorced with a deaf teenaged daughter. He has a team, that you don't really get to know well, although one of them at least is 'Uncle' to the daughter.

The book starts
Sep 04, 2014 May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
My current favorite thriller genre authors are Greg Rucka, Brad Thor, and Lee Child (Tom Clancy's earlier works are also favorites). Having just finished "Alpha," the start of Greg Rucka's new series, I have decided that he is my favorite of the three. His Queen and Country series, reviewed earlier, is excellent, with the added twist of having a compelling female heroine (unusual in this genre).
In this series, Jad Bell is a Delta Force operative who, along with his team, is trying to track down
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Greg Rucka, is an American comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on such comics as Action Comics, Batwoman: Detective Comics, and the miniseries Superman: World of New Krypton for DC Comics, and for novels such as his Queen & Country series.
More about Greg Rucka...

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“Bell holsters his pistol as Chain drops to one knee, begins searching bodies and bags. Lilac is watching him warily, the boy and girl clinging to her. "You with me? Lilac? Are you with me?"
Lilac nods, hesitantly at first, then again, with resolve, and maybe it's calling her by her character name that does it, but she takes a breath, stands a little straighter. She is Lilac the meerkat, the heart of the Flower Sisters. Fierce and loyal, yet kind at heart, and she will do what must be done.”
“You get them to the main gate, don't stop until you're outside," Bell tells her, then turns, directing his words at the others. "You understand? All of you, follow Lilac. Follow Lilac. Don't stop. Run."
"Lily runs," the girl says softly. "Lilac dances."
"Not today," Lilac says. "Today, we run so fast that Lily won't believe it when we tell her. Right?"
The girl nods, wide-eyed.”
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