Thomas Edmund's Reviews > Impact

Impact by Douglas Preston
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's review
Feb 10, 2010

did not like it
Read in February, 2010

Impact follows a collection of different characters as their lives are irreparably changed by the impact of what appears to be a meteor/meteorite/metoriod??

I apologize for the spoilers throughout this review, however, this is the sort of book that you need to give everything away to explain just how poorly constructed the story is.

First of all the characters.

In part one of the story we have three protagonists: Abbey a young black woman just out of teenagedom, who smokes weed, makes smart-ass jokes and whose father is on her case about college. She is drawn into the story when she witnesses the plummeting meteor and steals her father’s boat to try and claim the fallen star.

Corso an academic with connections to mars explorations who stumbles across secret data on an alien artefact on mars

And Ford, a Jack Bower type ex-something “I don’t do that work anymore” guy who is asked to investigate a mine of rare metals that may be from out of this world.

These characters are a smooth blend of cliché and stereotype and come across flat. Abbey seemed to be the only character with any back-story to speak of, perhaps merely because she is young so still close to family. Otherwise the characters simply perform what they need to do to carry out the story, there is some attempt to spice up the narrative with ugly and antisocial antagonists and implausible sex but when key characters are poorly portrayed caricatures you can only imagine what the support cast are like.

In part two a serial killer antagonist is included in the mix, once again swinging the story towards thriller rather than sci-fi. Which leads onto the second problem, what genre is this book anyway?

If the answer is: “an awesome crossover sci-fi thriller” then the author should have spent more time trying to make the alien plot-line remotely believable, as it stands the story reads like an espionage thriller that just happens to all be about aliens. All the tension comes from human conflict and conspiracy, so why are there aliens at all? In the end the aliens don’t even matter at all, apparently having been extinct for the past forever, we don’t even see alien technology fall into the wrong hands or any other derivative plotline.

The extent of the research for this novel appears to be looking up the definition of dark matter. As if actually taking advice from “How not to write a novel” the characters frequently describe things in general terms so as to avoid the physical difficulties surrounding the concept of a ball of dark matter shooting through the middle of the earth, an alien weapon firing on earth from Demios (one of Mar’s moons) and reader’s ability to enjoy a novel that reads like a straight to TV (that’s right, even skipping DVD) movie.

Perhaps the worst part of the book was the worst twist/reveal I’ve ever experienced in a novel, or even on TV (and I’ve seen the Scooby Doo cartoons)

Towards the end when there is an obligatory reveal of one of the good (or at least benign) characters as a traitor we discover that an academic is actually a devout Muslim and has been selling space secrets to Pakistan.

Bear in mind that neither Pakistan or Islam had featured in the novel, or been introduced as a side issue or even philosophical discussion by the cardboard characters. Considering that there were about ten more plausible explanations of how and why an academic may betray space secrets like the rest of the book this ending just left me asking why go in the Muslim direction? Why are there aliens? Why did I read this book again?
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Karen (new)

Karen I went on here because I thought this might be the book and old movie with the same name was based on. Per your review I am warned not to read it. It is not the one I thought it was anyway. Sounds terrible.

Thomas Edmund It isn't

Is is

message 3: by Karen (new)

Karen Thanks for reply.

Thomas Edmund :)

message 5: by Madgie (new)

Madgie While I can read a Preston Childs book without second thought, I have found that Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs perform better together than apart. Thanks for the heads up T.

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