While I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't...moreWhile I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't disappoint. It's high caliber action that brings to mind movies like The Dirty Dozen, but twenty plus years sooner. I don't know a lot about WWI, to be honest, but what Nassise writes seems credible. I like that he takes what is known about WWI fighting and integrates some steampunkish and supernatural elements. I think that he builds on the ever-present sense of horror that war inherently has, and that's a firm foundation for a supernatural suspense novel. I can't verify this, but the Germans seemed kind of Nazish already, especially in the blatant defiance of human rights and experimentation on humans. That part was rather disturbing.
I felt the suspense element was a huge appeal of this book. I literally didn't know what would happen and I even had to put it down a few times to get a break. Although I wanted to keep reading. I find zombies really disturbing, and the fact that the Germans are using gas to turn people into zombies is pretty darn awful. I wanted the heroes to open up a can of whip@$$ all over them.
If anything could have improved this was more dialogue and interaction with the members of Burke's team. I cared about all these guys, but I think I would have liked to know more about them. I realize that this book occurs over a short period of time, but this would have enhanced my reading experience. The main villain Richthofen was a "real you know what". He's the kind of villain you want to see get his butt handed to him. But he's a credible villain in that he's not easily defeated. He's enough to give you nightmares, actually. I don't think I'll have any, I hope. But just in case, I tried not to read this before I went to sleep. This book is so much scary as unnerving in that I can put myself in the soldiers' shoes and imagine that sense of constant fear that dealt with in the trenches. If being blown up or shot or gassed to death isn't enough. That's a chance they will be turned into zombies or see their fellow soldiers come back to try to eat them to death! Yeah, that's pretty disturbing.
Overall, this was a very good book. Great action moments. I liked the lead characters, especially Burke. The villain is nasty enough to make him a worthy antagonist. The supernatural/steampunk parts are excellent. They tie into the WWI setting very well. I think with more development of the secondary characters, this book would have been even more effective as a read. I will definitely continue this series, but when I'm in the mood for a creepy zombie novel with good action.
Jack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more wee...moreJack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more weeks. But he’s pulled out of training early, and drafted into an ultra-secret, elite SEAL team, one that has an unusual team number. This team fights threats against the free world that are supernatural in origin. And Jack is specially equipped to be a member. For the dark scars of his youth mark him with a special ability to sense evil.
I liked the idea of this book, a military special ops story with a supernatural twist. Ochse’s attention to detail as far as military ops lends credibility to the writing. I really appreciated the look at how a SEAL team operates and the whole involved procedure of keeping the world safe, top secret-style, with the ancillary support of various defense agency personnel. His focus seems to be more on this than the supernatural component, but he grafts together the two aspects of the story fairly well. Still this book seemed thin to me. Like it was serviceable, but merely scratching the surface of possibilities. Yes, I think that was the big issue I had with this book. It lacked depth.
I wanted more character exploration. While I felt I did get to know Jack fairly well, I didn’t get more than a surface portrayal of most of the others. I realize that the story occurs in a short period of time, but I had this feeling that the characters merely existed to move the story, or to get killed off. That saddened me. The death of a team member and the ritual associated with his passing, had more time spent on it than seeing that team member as a living, breathing human. Of course, death is an everyday experience for these men. They know they could die on any mission they undertake. But I needed to know them better, because knowing someone is part of the process of caring for them, that they live and die for a purpose. Otherwise, our mental health defenses build a wall between us and the suffering of others in the world, because to cry for every person who dies will destroy you. We just don’t have that capacity. But if you know someone, even a little, it breaks your heart to know they have died. To introduce a character only to kill them without much effort to infuse depth makes a mockery of that. I really dislike the tendency towards presenting characters as sacrificial lambs in a story. Just enough to introduce a character and then they get killed off. I felt this was a shortcoming of this novel.
The action is well done. The pace was intense and appropriate. I got the real sense that I was going on ops with these guys. In this case, all in relation to the supernatural threats in this book. If even possible, that brings a higher level of threat to the situation. There’s only so much a gun can do against an undead, immortal threat, or one from a world of strangeness that doesn’t follow the rules that govern this physical one.
The supernatural storyline was intriguing and definitely horrific. Ochse does build the sense of wrongness and weirdness that would disturb an average person. I like a weird supernatural story like nobody’s business, but I had some moments where I was thinking, “That’s just wrong!” Imagine being a SEAL, trained to eliminate lethal threats all around the world, but previously naïve to the supernatural darkness in this world. You have to keep moving and do your job, and you don’t have time for “WTFs”. So yes, that part was very well done. The particular threat they faced in this book felt novel and very intimidating, and the author ties it into things going on in the world arena. While the climax was too abrupt for my tastes, it definitely had impact, and as I said, I enjoyed the action moments.
With this book, I had that feeling that everything was scratching the surface when I wanted things to get deeper. With an intriguing storyline like this, I get excited to see what journey the author will take me on. Overall, this was a book that kept me reading. It was a pretty good book. A nice mélange of spec ops action and supernatural weirdness. I think the author could have given me more as far as characterization, which is the biggest shortcoming of this novel. However, I would keep reading this if it becomes a series.
This was a very dark, intense vampire action horror novel. There were some blasphemous elements that I found disturbing, which knocked my rating down....moreThis was a very dark, intense vampire action horror novel. There were some blasphemous elements that I found disturbing, which knocked my rating down. Readers who like dark vampire horror might enjoy this. But be warned. Not for the faint of heart.
The Innocent is perfect for fans of the enigmatic, laconic, capable action/thriller hero. Will Robie has already been added to my list of kickbutt art...more The Innocent is perfect for fans of the enigmatic, laconic, capable action/thriller hero. Will Robie has already been added to my list of kickbutt artists. Robie kills people for a living on behalf of the US government. He’s very good at it. He has never failed a mission yet, until he is hired to kill someone who clearly doesn’t need killing. He has to flee the scene to stay alive, and ends up on a bus out of DC with another runaway, a young girl named Julie. When he observes that someone is trying to kill her, he takes out the assailant and gets Julie off the bus, seconds before it explodes. Normally Robie is a loner, but this time he has to take on a partner, a person to keep safe while he figures out why their paths have crossed and people seem to be gunning for them both.
I enjoyed this book a lot. Baldacci develops a story of obvious complexity with great skill. He makes it look simple with his straightforward writing. However, layers keep getting pulled away to reveal something very multifaceted as the two various characters' lives intersect in a way that seems random initially. I liked how he conveys Robie’s expertise at what he does. He’s the real deal, Robie is. He’s very observant and skilled, but understated about it. I loved the dialogue between Robie and others, particularly Julie. This book had me laughing a lot. A big, tough guy like him finds out just how mouthy a teenage girl can be (and they can be very mouthy). She’s almost like a chip off the block with her own set of survivor skills. She’s had a tough life and is just as much a survivor as Robie is himself. Although this game they are in is high stakes and playing for keeps. She needs a protector who knows a lot about getting the bad guys dead and keeping alive.
I’m really glad my library had this book. I practically devoured it. I would love to read more books about Will Robie, and hopefully Julie will show up as a cameo. I can’t believe they will see the last of each other.
Definitely recommend this to fans of literary tough guys. Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars. (less)
One Rough Man sounds like a strange title on first glance, but it fits the character of Pike very well. Pike is a tough guy who went through a very ho...moreOne Rough Man sounds like a strange title on first glance, but it fits the character of Pike very well. Pike is a tough guy who went through a very horrible personal tragedy that made him even more rough around the edges. He's kind of like John McClane, with added military training. He's the guy who's there at the right time (although not exactly your first choice), and the one who has to save the day.
Initially, this was a slow start. The author gave us a lot of intel into running surveillance operations and some inner operational lingo and dynamics that were a bit sluggish to read, and one might be tempted to think this was going to be a military/spy procedural. But once you keep reading, you realize there is plenty of action. I think that's par for the course when you read a new author and learn their way of telling a story.
We get an inside look at terrorists and their methodology, which I appreciated, because it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. However, in their mind, there is a twisted method behind what they do, and at least I got a glimpse into that. And it seemed plausible. It gives me shivers that folks like that are walking around planning to unleash chaos all around us.
Reading the afterward was enlightening. Apparently Taylor took some ribbing from friends in the military over this book, but at least they read it and told him what he had gotten wrong, which was good. Since I have no military background, I don't know enough to catch errors, so it's good to know that an author does his best not to make them. And better yet, no military secrets were exposed in the making of this book! I hate when I see stuff on tv that could affect US operational security and I always worry if terrorists are taking notes!
As far as Pike, he isn't always likable. Well, he's grumpy. I like grumpy heroes, but I know that doesn't work for everyone. He had lots of reasons to be surly and unfriendly, considering what he was suffering. I like that Jennifer kept it real with him and told him he was a jerk when he needed to hear it. Pike is a bad@$$, a man with a well-deserved reputation, and seeing him in action was great. I had some good laughs and some fist pumping moments. Yet despite his tough guy nature, he had moments of doubt and fear, believing he was a dead man a time or two. But at least he kept his cool. He was able to handle his fear and work through it. His sense of honor might be shaky, but it never abandoned him, and that made me love him even more.
I really liked Jennifer. She was pretty well-developed, with her own inner turmoil and angst. Boy was she brave. I liked that she was a companion that more than held her weight with Pike, even after she had met her obligations to him and vice versa. They made a good team, communicating well and looking out for each other's back. I liked how they had a meeting of minds and while there was a connection, their actions made sense for their situations.
The villains were interesting. Not just the expected villain, but someone who should have been doing the right thing. I was kind of shocked at some of the things the villains did. I can't imagine turning off one's morality like that and doing something so awful as was done in this book, especially when you were part of a group that had such high moral expectations. Maybe I am just naive.
The action was great. Not just shooting, but some good hand to hand combat, and a good sense of risk along the way. While Pike is definitely all over it, and Jennifer turns out to be a budding action heroine, they didn't have it easy. There were some moments I was on the edge of my seat, reading as fast as I can.
All in all, a very good read. I would definitely like some more Pike and Jennifer adventures. Not to mention the mega loose end. I can't wait to see Pike rip open a can of you know what on that person.
Recommended to fans of tough guys with the training, smarts and attitude to get the job done.(less)