I’ve enjoyed all of Lincoln Childs and Douglas Preston’s books and I’ve come to expect certain things from them. There...more[Posted from NewBookAlerts.com:]
I’ve enjoyed all of Lincoln Childs and Douglas Preston’s books and I’ve come to expect certain things from them. There’s almost always a remote location…or if there’s not, there’s a way to make a common location seem remote (like shutting up an entire museum so that even the cops can’t get in!). There’s always a super intelligent antagonist, usually some sort of animal or artificial intelligence. There’s a couple of smart people who figure everthing out and survive…and a bunch of dumb people who don’t listen to the smart people and die in the most horrific — and vividly described — fashion.
(Note that even though this book is by Lincoln Child alone, there are a great many similarities to the books co-authored with Douglas Preston that it feels like they were both there writing.)
Terminal Freeze is no exception. It takes place at a remote army installation in the extreme northern part of Alaska where, of course, there is no way to get help from the outside. (And there’s also a blizzard at just the wrong time of course.) And there’s a bad creature who seems to enjoy killing all of the characters.
This book actually started out kind of slowly, which was a little surprising. It did a good job of giving me the feeling that I was stranded in a remote wilderness…unfortunately, the wilderness in this case was the first third of the book. Basically, there’s a bunch of scientists doing random, not terribly interesting experiments. They find a frozen creature (which they think is a smilodon) and a documentary crew comes to film the unveiling/melting of the creature. It seemed to take forever to get to the first bit of action (when the animal inevitably escapes his frozen prison and starts terrorizing the scientists and film crew, but once it started I quite enjoyed the action.
One particularly good note about this book was that I found myself anxiously awaiting the death of a character. As you read books like this you learn to figure out early which characters are going to die based on their personality and actions. In this book, there’s one character about whom I actually caught myself thinking, “I can’t wait until he dies!” That’s when a realized that the character development in this book is as good — or even better — then I’ve come to expect from Child.
The science in this book was interesting and involved different types of ice (I found more info here: http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/petrolgy/I...) and sympathetic resonance (more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sympathe...). Of course the beast itself is different than any currently existing animal so its description takes advantage of a bit of scientific creative license as well, but I must say that it’s pretty cool.
As usual, the back story ties up nicely at the end and while the story itself seems finished, the characters seem like they’re already on their way to the next adventure/novel.
Overall, Terminal Freeze is not my favorite Lincoln book, but it contais everything you’d expect and everything it needs to be an enjoyable read.
**spoiler alert** I picked this book off Audible.com on a lark. I had not heard of the author since this is his debut novel. I can’t even tell you wha...more**spoiler alert** I picked this book off Audible.com on a lark. I had not heard of the author since this is his debut novel. I can’t even tell you what made me click on the link…but I’m glad I did!
If you haven’t seen it, the short synopsis of the book is that a clerk who usually manages the paperwork after cases are solved by detectives is suddenly pulled into the role of a detective to solve the mystery of his missing detective. The main character appears completely unsuited for this, of course, but fumbles his way around and, in a convincing manner, slowly gets the hang of it as the story progresses.
It is this hook that first got me interested. The main character, Charles Unwin, has knowledge of all of the cases and enemies that he needs to solve the mystery, but his knowledge is only second-hand and is somewhat suspect. It becomes clear over time that there are elements of the reports that Unwin removed because he thought they were incorrect, untruthful, or reflected badly upon “the agency.” Over time, he realizes that the world is much stranger than he first thought and those elements he excised from the reports were actually critical.
Here’s the strange thing…since I didn’t have any knowledge of the author and the only thing I knew about the book was the short blurb on the website, I had no idea what to expect. As soon as I started listening to the book, I realized that I made a mistake and I’d probably stop listening and just get a new book (which I’ve only every done once). That was in the first 10 minutes. One of the problems is that it is set in an older settings, maybe 1950’s or 60’s, but it’s never clearly defined (that I recall). I don’t really care for the “classic” dective novels but I do enjoy modern thrillers. I think once I heard the settings and the “boring” main character (more on this in a minute), I decided I’d had enough.
However, I was already in the car on my way to work and I don’t listen to the radio, so I left it on. At some point in the next 10 minutes before I got to work, things suddenly got interesting and I was disappointed to have to turn it off. I really can’t tell you exactly when it happened, but I think it was when the first dream sequence started.
After the slow beginning, I think Berry does a great job drawing the reader into the characters. Unwin is an intentionally and wholly unremarkable character. As a writer, it is hard to get your audience to associate with such a character. But over time, I did learn to like Unwin and there were numerous other characters I liked, some of whom were seldom or never actually present in real life. (A quote from one of my favorite characters: “I’ve already remembered too much!”)
All in all, I was very pleased to have picked this book at random. I’ve read some other good reviews of it online and found that other people have had a similarly difficult time describing it. It’s part thriller, part old-time detective story, part fantasy/parapsychology, and a lot of other things you can’t quite put your finger on. Nonetheless, I think it worked very well and I’ve added Jebediah Berry to my NewBookAlerts list!
I mentioned the first dream sequence as the point at which I may have gotten hooked by the story. The sequence is completely absured (as a dream should be), but it is described well enough to make you think it could actually happen. As you get further into the book, you learn that this is intentional as the line between wakefulness and dreams is increasingly and intentionally blurred. There were numerous times throughout the book that I had to back up and re-listen to a section to figure out if the scene was live or dreamed. At first I felt silly because I should be paying better attention, but then I realized that this is a critical aspect of the book. There are times when the characters think they’re awake when they’re dreaming (we’ve all had that dream, right?) and those that are awake but can’t tell for sure. The fact that the book was able to confuse me as well is one of the points I now appreciate the most about it.
In the end, I was mostly satisfied with the book. I was very pleased that the little threads shown throughout the beginning of the book all tie into the final story somehow. I also like the fact that I have revisited parts of the story several times in my head and had additional revelations. The only disappointing part for me was trying to keep up with the motive for the bad guys. I say “bad guys” because there’s not just one antagonist–which is usually a good thing. Unwin’s understanding (and yours) of the loyalties and relationships continually evolves throughout the book, which keeps things interesting. However, when the good guy/bad guy merry-go-round stops and you find the last antagonist…I was still unclear on the motive. Perhaps this is because I was listening to the book rather than reading, but I re-listened to a critical section twice to try to find something I missed, but it was to no avail.
I enjoy sweeping thrillers that involve a lot of characters and locations. Steve Berry has, for the past four or five years, been kind of in the middl...moreI enjoy sweeping thrillers that involve a lot of characters and locations. Steve Berry has, for the past four or five years, been kind of in the middle of my list of liked authors for this type of book. The Third Secret jumped him up a couple of notches.
I'm not entirely sure why, but this book seemed much better to me than the others of his that I've read like The Amber Room and The Charlemagne Pursuit. (Of which, I liked the latter quite a bit and the former not so much.) I think it was that this book seemed better thought out from beginning to end. There were many more threads that started from the very beginning of the book and finally tied together into a single piece of cloth by the end. That's what keeps me excited and presses me to finish a book.
This book is similar to Dan Brown's Angels and Demons in content. It surrounds secrets in the Vatican and a power hungry pope wannabe. I don't belong to an organized religion and I don't usually care to spend my free time studying/learning/whatevering one. It says a lot about a book about organized religion when I can get completely sucked in.
That being said...like the Dan Brown books, The Third Order is critical of the Catholic Church. So if you're sensitive about such topics, I'd pass on this one. Otherwise, I found it to be a great story that was well-developed and well-told.(less)
Like most Michael Crichton books, the story was well developed and I enjoyed learning about the characters.
What bothers me about Crichton books, howev...moreLike most Michael Crichton books, the story was well developed and I enjoyed learning about the characters.
What bothers me about Crichton books, however, is the technophobia that sometimes accompanies them. I can't fully explain why, but this one was particularly bad. I came away from the book thinking that Crichton would be happier living in a log cabin in central Wisconsin. Usually I can dismiss this by reminding myself that without the technology going horribly wrong, there wouldn't be a story. In this case, however, I just couldn't get past what seemed like preaching against the evils of technology.(less)