The thrilling sequel to 2012's Techno-Horror/Sci-Fi masterpiece, EXOSKELETON.
"Stadler - an experimental physicist by trade - effectively uses his background working in government and defense labs in painting vivid, appropriately clinical looks at the very base concept of torture. He spins it, however, into a horrifying tale of supernatural vengeance, one wrought with complex questions of faith, spirituality, and the after-life." - Chris Hallock, CHIZINE
" ... a cleverly executed [blend] of science fiction, suspense and horror. ... a certified dark journey into madness." - David Gammon, HORROR NEWS
"EXOSKELETON utilizes several science fiction and horror tropes: the medical experiment gone horribly wrong, the malevolent secret government organization that will stop at nothing to achieve its aims, vengeful spirits against which the fleshbound have no defense, [still] Stadler never lets the story devolve into cliche, but instead uses these tropes with originality and energy." - Tracie McBride, EXQUISITE CORPSE
Freed from the Red Box, William Thompson finds himself at the center of a geo-political conflict spawned from a secret history of scientific and militaristic operations, setting in motion a deadly chain of events that threatens the world.
Shane Stadler is an experimental physicist. He has worked at numerous government research and defense laboratories, and is currently a professor of physics at a major research university. EXOSKELETON is his first novel.
I enjoyed this as much as the first book. Will Thompson is a scary guy, especially when pissed off. I like how he's become more adept at separating from his body for longer periods of time and can do all kinds of crazy shit.....it seems as if he's evolving. This book took an unexpected direction and it becomes more clear why he and the other inmates at the Red Box facility were experimented on. There were a few twists and turns I didn't see coming and I hope there's an Exoskeleton III........ and a movie.
I am really enjoying this series... I hope the third book is coming out soon, this is just one of those stories where you want to find out what happens next. This is an international thriller, a tale of corporate intrigue and hideous medical experiments dating back to the very beginnings of the third reich. A program has been developed to separate the human soul from its body; a project with one success case (read the first book, Exoskeleton to learn those details) but the process has an endgame no one realized; to make contact with something of unknown origin in the ocean near Antarctica. A sequel that uses the existing characters and set pieces of the first book, while simultaneously shifting tone into almost an entirely different genre. I must say I loved this book.
I am really glad I didn’t have to wait almost four years for this story the way a lot of people did. I only got to reading Exoskeleton, the previous novel from Shane Stadler, a couple of months ago (read my review here), so thankfully I didn’t have long to wait on the follow-up novel, Tympanum. Though even if I did have to wait years instead of months to catch up with William Thompson and the story of “Red Wraith”, I still would have deemed the wait worth it. Which can only mean one thing: that Shane Stadler has again delivered the goods with a knock out novel powered by one corker of a story.
The novel picks up some time after the events in Exoskeleton, when Will Thompson (the book’s central character) was a victim of the Compressed Punishment program, a secret government project carried out in order to try and “separate” the soul from the bodies of the victims imprisoned inside the Exoskeletons, a process attempted through means of extreme physical and mental torture. After much brutal abuse in the Red Box, the program succeeded in allowing Will Thompson to achieve separation of his soul from his body, effectively launching him into another plane of existence, and giving him superpowers to boot, which Will eventually used to bring down the whole program in a very destructive way.
The raison d’être for the Red Wraith project was supposedly to create advanced weapons (as is usually the case with secret government programs) in the form of super-soldiers who could wreak havoc and destruction wherever they were deployed. That was the understanding set out in the first book, but the author of Exoskeleton also hinted at other, more deeper and sinister reasons for the program. But hints were all we got before the first book drew to an end.
Picking up the second book, I half expected Will to be in the employ of the FBI, helping them solve cases by using his superpowers. The way Exoskeleton was left, it kind of seemed things were heading in that direction, like, “Okay Will, we need you to do your soul separating thingy and go inside that building to save all those hostages from the vicious terrorists holding them,” and Will would go do his thing and save the day.
All I can say is, thank Christ the story didn’t go down that path, or I fear it would have become some lame, crime busting hijinks novel. But no, thankfully Tympanum is not that at all, and is in fact, much more.
As it turns out, there actually is a bigger purpose for the Red Wraith program, and we spend most of the book uncovering what that purpose is. It is the central mystery at the heart of Tympanum, and one which kept me fully engrossed for the two days it took me to read the book.
The story itself starts of at a fairly slow pace, and to be honest, I feared the book was going to be a let-down compared to the first book. I loved the first book, and I so wanted the follow-up to be as awesome. I’m glad to say though, that I wasn’t disappointed, and that the follow up turned out to be just as awesome, and a whole lot more.
As I said, what makes Tympanum such a joy to read is the intricately thought out story that drives everything along. It is like uncovering a giant conspiracy theory–perhaps the ultimate conspiracy theory–one fascinating piece at a time. I happen to love stories like this, simply because I can’t resist a good conspiracy theory. There is something about government programs and secret projects that just makes me want to know more. Clandestine shit like that never fails to arouse my curiosity. If nothing else, you will not want to put this book down, if only to find out what the whole thing is about; to find out what the real point of the Red Wraith project was in the first place.
And my, what a tale it turns out to be. I’m not giving anything away by telling you that the roots of the program exist with the Nazis. That much was made clear in the first book. With this book though, we are privy to even more detailed accounts of the Nazis involvement in the program, and the lengths they went to in order to pursue it, and to keep it all a secret from an unsuspecting world.
As you might have guessed from the cover, much of the action takes place in Antarctica, where a strange beacon that exists in the depths under the ice has drawn the attention of the worlds intelligence agencies to go check it out. The main plot of the novel revolves around everyone trying to work out what the hell the strange object is and why it appears to be a beacon of some sort.
Quite a few of the characters from the first book are involved in unraveling this mystery, including Will himself obviously, and also his friends Jonathan and Denise. The bulk of the researching and uncovering of information is done by three characters known as Omniscients, who work in secret for the CIA. It is through them that we get to learn the secrets of the Red Wraith project and its ultimate purpose, which as one character says, may have “existential consequences” (which become clear by the end of the book).
Even though there is a shitload of information delivered in this novel, the author manages to deliver it all in the context of a page-turning thriller, just as he did in the first book also. Tympanum is fast-paced and features enough action to satisfy the reader and give them a break from the constant stream of uncovered information. Not that you will need a break. As I said, the gradual revealing of the mystery at the heart of the book will keep you turning the pages as much (if not more) than the action scenes.
There is a danger with stories like these that the build-up throughout will come to nothing. I have read many books (and seen more movies) where the story has a really interesting and captivating build towards solving some mystery, only to have things fall flat at the end. Sometimes a story can make promises that it ultimately fails to deliver on and the ending can be a let-down. I’m happy to report however, that that isn’t the case here. The ending of the book is very satisfying and equally as engaging as the story that got it there in the first place.
What I also appreciated about this book, as I did in the first book, is that the author raises existential questions through the story and the actions of the characters, especially at the end of the novel. I couldn’t help thinking of Prometheus, the Ridley Scott movie. Tympanum raises the same kind of questions about our existence as that movie, all of which add depth and integrity to the novel, while making the incredible story and plot somehow more plausible.
The novel has a lot of integrity to it. I would say a staggering amount of research went into this book, and that is evident, not only in the layers of the conspiracy story, but also in every scene. The scenes that take place on the submarine especially, I thought were very believable and well executed in the way that the crew behaved and ran things. The author obviously has a firm mental picture of how everything looks in the novel, and he does a great job of putting his vision across by being precisely detailed about things, again adding to the overall integrity and plausibility of the novel. I guess that’s the scientist coming out in him 🙂
Like the first book, Tympanum ends with the promise of more to come. The story is not yet concluded, and I’m excited to read what happens next, though I beg the author not to wait as long this time for a follow-up. I’ll wait if I have to though. With a story this fascinating and engaging, the wait will always be worth it, I’m sure.
An amazing evolving book. The compressed punishment system was only a tip of the iceberg. I won’t say it was just the beginning because this started countless years before and was probably the reason for WWII. Now one man has evolved to the desired capabilities, the superpowers of the world want him for their own and are willing to start WWIII over him. But what is his purpose? Is he here to save the world or to destroy it?
I thoroughly enjoyed the first Exo and was both surprised and delighted to see a sequel. Until I read it. Some good ideas here, but unlike the first, it's skimpy on action, real character and a sense of immediacy. Will Thompson, who learned to "separate" his soul from his body under an horrendous torture experiment conducted through the CIA, now finds that the clandestine program (destroyed at the end of the first book) is part of a larger conspiracy going back to the Nazis. It's also tied in to a mysterious "beacon" on the ocean floor near Antarctica. Stuff happens – a lot of stuff happens – but it wavers between being static and wandering off into increasing absurd conspiracy theories. The writing is creaky and mundane, with far too much repetition. What saves it now and then are descriptions of increasingly horrific torture. Stadler's really good at designing torture – and not bad at burning people alive.
This book started out with a decade long secret and took off from there. There were/are a lot of elements going with this book and if you can't follow divergent threads, you might want to skip it. The action is there, but it's not the in your face type, as stated earlier there is a mystery that spans decades, there's espionage, murder, death, horror, torture, and even romance. The characters were well developed and seem to work well together and there are several cliff hangers. Read it with an open mind and you might be pleasantly surprised.
The sequel to Exoskeleton. Will Thompson can separate soul from body.
When a beacon is discovered in the ocean that is not of this world everyone wants it, especially the Chinese. The only way to enter the beacon is to acquire Will Thompson. What power does the beacon hold? And at what cost will one do to find out?
This book is awesome and deserves 5 stars I only gave it 4 because of missing words, wrong words, or double words. Example: Will ran to the to the car. I was going the go to the dance.
I do not remember the first book “Exoskeleton” being like this. Not as much anyway.
With that being said, please don’t let that discourage you from reading this series. The story is great. Just little mishaps that I believe should have been corrected before the book was printed.
Ferociously mid. Stadler takes an interesting and well thought out concept from the first book, albeit with a hasty (and sloppy) ending, and promptly charged into hell with a squirt gun. Unfortunately, this installation in the series doesn’t seem to understand itself or where it’s trying to go. It feels as though Stadler decided on backgrounds for each of his characters without any consideration of their impacts on the story. Will, the main character, was a physics professor, and yet is seemingly incapable of applying any of that knowledge to his current predicaments. Overall a disappointing follow up to an enjoyable first book.
Having read "Exoskeleton" and enjoyed it I couldn't wait to read the 2nd book of the Trilogy. I thought that I a good base from which to formalise how that story might unfold. Boy was I wrong! The crazy thing is I'm delighted I was wrong. This second book in the series took me totally by surprise and led me down paths that both captivated and frightened me. In summary, two words; READ IT!
This is a really compelling book. The only reason for 4 stars and not 5 is that there are far too many point-of-view shifts and not all the little sections add anything to the story. Apart from that this is a great read. I highly recommend it. I'm buying number 3 now and starting on it straight away.
Having read Exoskeleton, the first in the series, I was really looking forward to where Mr Stadler would go with the series. I wasn't disappointed. I actually really enjoyed it, even more so than the first, and it left me eagerly awaiting the next instalment. Well recommended.
Great sequel to his first book...Exoskeleton...continues the story. Cleverly mixes the story with history to create a fascinating chronology. Difficult to read in places as has some graphic descriptions...nonetheless one of my favourite reads..
If you're a fan of Science fiction stories, that keep your attention and you cannot wait to see the next page! Here is a great written story for you! BUY THIS BOOK NOW! I loved reading this book! 😍😍😍 OH, YES! 😍😍🤗
I am going to use the same review for all the books in this series as I’ve just read them all. I can honestly say I have never read anything like this before. I’ve read science fiction, fantasy, horror, steam punk, fact and fiction. This however was a different thing totally. The first book, with the level and depravity of cruelty made me wonder what made a person want to write this? What was going through their mind` and how warped must they be? However, as I progressed, I saw the existential view. I also began to look at how fact is stranger than fiction and how it wouldn’t have surprised me to find that some of this actually happened? The storyline took me somewhere that I didn’t expect and because of the authors background and obvious knowledge how much was possible or true and how much was just hokum, made to fit the story? The middle couple of books did make for hard going at times but there was no way I could stop, there was too much I needed to know; about the storyline, where it was going and what about the characters I’d invested in? I’m a couple of pages away from finishing the series now so I thought a review would work while fresh and I’m still in ‘situ’. The last book took its time but gathered pace quickly without giving away an obvious ending which I’m still not sure it will be. This series raises a lot of questions about us as humans. About our obvious failings, our possibilities and our future, while on this planet and afterwards. The word existential is one of many suitable adjectives I could use for this series along with scientific, cruel (at times not a strong enough adj.), historic and hopeful. I went into these books unexpectant, unaware and unsure of its genre or if it’d be any good. I’m happy to say that I went all in and read the lot! I enjoyed this and for a change did not immerse myself so much I almost took on a character. I enjoyed this for what it is; a great series worthy of anyone’s time. If you get the chance and time to reads this series, I can highly recommend it. It definitely will not be to everyone’s taste but if you don’t jump in how will you know?
***If you are at all squeamish about blood, dentistry, violence, or the paranormal, then you should not read this!***
Mr. Stadler begins this book right where Exoskeleton left off. Will is recovering and trying to move on with his life. But the world has other plans for him. And so does the author.
This sequel is well-written. It has a lot of characters to remember and new ones to learn. Because the setting is a global stage, above and below ground, there is room for confusion at times. I found the plot to be intriguing. I certainly wanted to keep reading to find out where this was all headed. When I thought I had guessed, the course of action changed and the storyline went well beyond what I had imagined.
It's a long book. There are a lot of details and explanations to get through. It took about 40% of the book to get to the first reveal, and it was worth it. I would say this book is not as gruesome as the first, but it certainly has its moments! I definitely appreciated the author's ability to take the first book even further. Separating the soul from the body definitely opens up an infinite amount of storyline potential. And of course, Mr. Stadler has left the door open for a Book 3.
There are some editing issues that need to be resolved. This may annoy some readers. I felt the Horace storyline was left unfinished - there is more to that character than we are being told. The story gets repetitive when the sub first goes into the station, and then returns with Daniel. The descriptions are virtually the same. Other than that, I found it to be a good book. At times, it was a page turner. Well-thought out, takes a leap of faith that the reader will join in/buy in to the plot, and a good forwarding of the story told in book one.
Tympanum is a must read follow up to Shane Stadler’s first novel, and continues the story from exactly the same point that Exoskeleton left off, where Will has learned to ‘separate‘ his soul from his body. It provides an in depth explanation to the more sinister purposes of the Red Wraith project and why it was deemed necessary to keep its true nature shrouded in secrecy.
In a similar fashion to Exoskeleton, Tympanum is a real page-turner that grips the reader with anticipation and an eagerness to know what comes next. It is clear that a lot of research has went in to the making of this novel with the vast amount of information that is included in its pages, and luckily this does not detract from both the action and the ‘existential implications’ that are eluded to within the story.
My only negative comment is that the kindle edition could be improved via the help of a proofreader, as there are numerous errors. However, here’s hoping that the third novel, Omniscient will be just as entertaining as the first two.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Tympanum picks up almost immediately where exoskeleton left off. You could look at exoskeleton as an origin story and Tympanum expands the story exponentially. The only minor complaint I have is Mr. Stadler could have spent a little more time developing the characters. Aside from Will, the main character that you get to know very well in the first book, the other characters seem to be there just to advance the story. But what a story it is, where the mystery keeps unraveling until and through the end.
The first book was borderline torture pornography but Tympanum builds on that base and is a complete mystery/thriller. I'm eagerly looking forward to the next installment.
Read this directly after finishing book one. This one is not so much a horror book as a detective thriller with mystery, supernatural and history thrown in for good measure. About half way through I couldn't see the need for another instalment but , my goodness., I am now in breathless anticipation.... Can Will save the world, how will that work? Are we doomed or is the judgement going to let us start again? I know its fiction but I am gripped! Book 3 PLEASE!!!!!