Cloak ★★★☆½

cloak (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Cloak
Series: ———-
Author: Timothy Zahn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 566
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

SPOILERS AHEAD AND BOY DO I MEAN SPOILERS

Synopsis:

A scientist is working on an invisibility cloak. He and most of his team are murdered and the cloaks stolen. The scientists wife is ambushed by skimasked killers and it is only through the intervention of a local private investigator that she stays alive. The detective convinces her not to go to the police but to stay on the run with him. His motives are murky at best.

At the same time, a tactical nuke is stolen from India and somehow the responsibility for finding it rolls right off the Indian government’s shoulders and into the United States’ lap. But the group that stole it knew the US would be looking and plays so many games of misdirection that nobody is sure where it is, where it is going or what the final purpose for it is.

At the same time, the President of the United States is touring the country trying to drum up support for an initiative he wants to pass at at upcoming United Nations meeting. The initiative? To give the UN their own true army, fully weaponized, including tactical nukes.

It call comes together in New York where a rogue Indian General and his agents are trying to nuke the UN meeting to wipe out a lot of political dissidents from around the world and it is up to the scientist’s wife, the PI (who is really a retired FBI agent) and 2 others to stop them. But how do you stop an invisible nuke that you aren’t even sure is in the city?

You figure out it is on an invisible zeppelin floating down the streets of New York of course! And then deactive it.

Score for the good guys.

 

My Thoughts:

When I read Zahn’s Soulminder back in ’14, even though I enjoyed it, I wasn’t impressed. I enjoyed this one a good bit more. The misdirection is impossible to ignore so I didn’t even try to figure out what was going on. I just sat back and let things happen.

I didn’t know WHAT was going to happen until it did and letting go was good for me. I felt like it was the real strength of the book while at the same time being its kryptonite. I doubt this has any re-read value and honestly, the older I get, the more I like to re-read. So some of my consideration of a book is “would I want to re-read this”. With knowing everything, I suspect most of the punch would be gone.

But since I didn’t know everything, this really packed a punch. Sometimes Zahn would misdirect purposely and at other times it was like he was using previous instances of misdirection to make me question if this current situation was a misdirection or not. I love having my chain yanked like that, when I know it is happening anyway.

This was a kickstarter originally. Honestly, I wish he’d do more kickstarter projects and write the books he wants to write instead of sticking to the miserables sods in the Star Wars universe. Well, I don’t know, maybe he LIKES writing in that “wretched hive of scum and villainy” but since I’m no longer a Star Wars fan I want other stories by him. I guess this will have to tide me over.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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The Dead Town (Frankenstein #5) ★★☆☆☆

thedeadtown (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Dead Town
Series: Frankenstein #5
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 447
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Everything begins falling apart for Victor Immaculate. His vat grown creations once again transcend their genetic coding and that transcendance is always in the form of breaking. Builders take on non-biological matter and can’t reproduce properly, the replacement clones begin to obsess and lose sight of their mission.

Through it all, Michael and Carson begin helping the townsfolk defend themselves while Deucalion hunts Victor down. Deucalion snaps Victor’s neck, the creations fall apart upon their creator’s death and Deucalion can now walk quantumly through the Light instead of skulking through the Shadows.

 

My Thoughts:

Even while I was expecting this story to turn out like this, it was still disappointing to have it actually happen. This followed the exact same pattern as the first trilogy but without any finesse or style. Evil simply falls apart and the good guys win by default.

Also, I already wrote this review, forgot to post it online, forgot I hadn’t posted it and deleted the hard copy from Open Office. So I’m writing this all over again. That always ruins things.

Basically, I didn’t enjoy this book or this series overall. I wouldn’t recommend it but I am going to continue dipping my toes into the Koontz universe. I’ve got 20 of his books available so I’m going to go exploring and see what I find. I hope I find better things than this book.

If anyone has read some of his standalone stuff, feel free to make recommendations in the comments, otherwise I’m just going to start picking stuff randomly.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Lost Souls (Frankenstein #4) ★★★☆☆

lostsouls (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Lost Souls
Series: Frankenstein #4
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 402
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Victor is alive. Or at least, his replacement clone is. But Victor 2.0 isn’t quite the same as Victor Helios. Victor Immaculate, as he calls himself, doesn’t want to replace humanity now, he wants to destroy it. If he can do that, he’ll have negated Scripture, thus making him more powerful than God.

With an array of new replicants and a new type of human called Builders, Victor sets forth his plan to begin exterminating humanity in a small town in Montana. With key officials replaced, the Builders can begin feeding on the towns people and begin the cycle of death and destruction.

Michael and Carson, now private eyes with a baby girl named Scout, realize that they have more to lose than ever. Scout means more to them than their own lives. When Deucalion comes calling telling them he has a hunch that Victor is alive, they don’t want to believe him. Then Erica Five, who has been living in a small Montanna town, calls Carson and tells her she has seen Victor. Now Michael and Carson have no choice. If they want there to be a world for Scout to grow up in, they must go out and do battle once again.

We also follow various townspeople from Rainbow Falls as things begin to go downhill. A vagrant and a special needs man, both in jail but for opposite reasons, survive the first wave of Builders’ feeding and must work together to stay alive. An old man and a young boy, both in the hospital, must depend on each other to escape the hospital, which has become a major center for the Builders. Two X-Files style FBI Agents are also in town chasing down rumors that The Money Man, a shadowy figure, will be in town and they mean to nab him.

Everything is set in motion for a climactic battle for the survival of Rainbow Falls and the world itself. Then the book abruptly ends. Like a meat cleaver right down the middle of a carcass of a cow.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this novel much more than the previous one and it was all set to be a 3 ½ star book. Then came the artificial ending. It was obvious that this book and the next, titled Deadtown, are really one story but due to length was cut in half. However, that cutting was done with all the finesse of a drunk butcher, who was blindfolded and who was told that one of the slabs of beef hanging in his freezer was really a pinata and to have at it. No resolution of any kind, no story arc completed, just full stop. That is bad story telling and it pissed me off. So I knocked that coveted ½ star off. I sure taught Koontz a lesson with that!

Besides that grievance, I did like this. I didn’t give it much detail in the synopsis but we really spend more time in the town of Rainbow Falls with various townspeople than we do with either Michael and Carson or Deucalion. That worked well as the Koontz definitely goes into “horror” territory more than in some of the previous Frankenstein books. How the Builders consume people is something else. There was one instance of where a church group was locked into a building and when some Builders were let loose and the replicants were watching, almost every single adult in the group pulled out a gun. The replicants were all killed and some ex-soldiers led the group out. It was great. God, guns and guts (ie, courage, not literally guts. With this book, there might be some confusion, hence this awkward, longwinded and rather unnecessary explanation)

The X-Files guys, (one of whom is named Dagget for goodness sake!!!!), play almost no part beyond being introduced and giving the reader a tiny bit of info.I suspect they’ll play a bigger part in the final book with how everything gets cleaned up.

Given how quickly the storyline for Victor Helios was wrapped up in the previous trilogy, I suspect the next book (which is also the final book in this series) is going to follow the same pattern. Koontz definitely has a paint by numbers plan for this series. A special needs child, the badguys beginning to fall apart on their own (evil consuming itself), etc, etc. It’s not a bad formula, just a bit obvious.

I chose not to read the final book immediately, due to my reading setup, but for anyone else, I’d recommend they read the first trilogy all in one go and then this duology in one go. I suspect it might make the overall narrative less choppy feeling if each story arc is read as one big book.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) DNF@18% ☆☆☆☆½

lasttown (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Last Town
Series: Wayward Pines #3
Author: Blake Crouch
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Thriller
Pages: 308/DNF
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

DNF @ 18%

 

My Thoughts:

“And what he saw, he didn’t know how to process”

…….

“A string of indelible images.”

…..

“In the middle of Main Street, a large abby on top of Megan Fisher, violating her.”

 

Enough. I will not read stuff like that.

☆☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Dead and Alive (Frankenstein #3) ★★☆☆½

deadandalive (Custom).jpgThis review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dead and Alive
Series: Frankenstein #3
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 372
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Victor Helios’ empire is crumbling. His new humans are all going insane, or changing in unexpected and uncontrolled ways. Murderous rampages, multiple genetic reorganizations, it is not good news for Victor. Then he gets a call from Wife #4, who he killed. Only she’s not dead, but alive and well in the dump and the creature that brought her back to life wants to confront Victor and destroy him.

The two cops, buddies slash romance partners, whose names I can’t even remember, are in touch with Deucalion and just drive around until it is time to meet up at the Dump. They have a “spiritual” moment, witness the end of the Victor and then get married, have a baby and start their own detective agency.

Deucalion steps through shadows, gets in touch with the freed new humans at the Dump and witnesses the end of Victor.

Victor denies that anything bad is happening, allows himself to be captured by the freed new humans and then dies. This sends a signal to some satellites in the sky which transmits a code and all the new humans, including the Dump Monster, die. Even though the coded deathkey didn’t work when Victor spoke it earlier.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a mess of a story. Everything was so rushed and completely unbelievable. That is coming from within a story about Frankenstein for goodness sake. And don’t give me crap about “Frankenstein’s Monster”. Koontz might sidestep it by calling him Deucalion, but since the series title is Frankenstein, yeah, I rest my case.

These books started out interesting, with Victor Helios being one bad ass badguy. The newhumans were real threats and things looked grim at the best. But Victor pretty much going insane and believing his own reality instead of what was actually going on really wrecked the whole villain vibe. I am hesitant to assign a motive to Koontz but I wonder if he was simply trying to show how pride can blind and ultimately destroy even the most brilliant being? I know that Koontz is Catholic and the parallels with Satan are unmistakable, but am I reading my own ideas into this? I simply don’t know.

Cop1 and Cop2 have guns, guns and guns and super ammo and only get to fight against two insane newhumans. Both of whom are naked. Cop2, the male, makes a big deal about the newhuman woman being naked. It didn’t quite get into slimeball territory but it definitely didn’t fit with “The End of Humanity as We Know It”. If you’re running for your life, are you really going to notice how tight some woman’s butt is? Especially when that woman is covered in blood, running faster than your car and trying to kill you with her barehands? If so, you really, really, really need to check your priorities.

There are 2 more books in this series and I do plan on reading them. I just hope they are standalones so that Koontz can pace himself a little better. As a trilogy I wouldn’t recommend this series but I’ll wait until the final book to see if this book was just the weak link or indicative of the overall direction.

★★☆☆½

bookstooge

 

 

Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) ★★★☆½

wayward (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Wayward
Series: Wayward Pines #2
Author: Blake Crouch
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF, Thriller
Pages: 324
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

* SPOILER ALERT *

I am usually not one to worry about spoilers in my reviews. However, this series seems to be predicated on the reader not knowing what is going to happen. As such, just giving fair warning that this review will spoil the heck out of the book. I will take the last paragraph to sum up my feelings without spoilers.

 

 

Synopsis:

There’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Ethan Burke. He knows all the secrets of Wayward Pines and knows what David Pilcher is keeping from most of the residents, that they exist 1800 years in the future and that humanity is extinct and the world over run by mutant aberrations.

But when one of the residents turns up dead, stabbed and then drained of all blood, AND she was secretly working for Pilcher, Ethan has a real mystery on his hands. When it is revealed there is a group of people in Wayward Pines who are part of a secret society, Ethan must infiltrate them.

Ethan might be toe’ing Pilcher’s party line of secrecy but when he reveals the truth to his wife and finds out that the children of the town are being brainwashed into thinking Pilcher is a god, Ethan must decide. Lies, deception, murder and safety? Or truth, honesty, trust and the chance of annihilation at the hands of the abbey’s?

The book ends with Ethan successfully revealing the truth to all the town’s residents and Pilcher, in revenge, turning off the electric fence that surrounds the town. Talk about a frakking cliff hanger!

 

My Thoughts:

Wow, wow, wow. I am very impressed here. After the roller coaster of the Pines, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a couple who wanted truth and freedom more than comfort and security. Dang, we need more books with people making hard choices like that. I’m not sure I felt “inspired” after reading this, but it sure was close.

Anyway, this took place in just a couple of days. It was kind of a whirlwind experience. Burke has to investigate a murder that ends up leading back to Pilcher, figure out how to tell his wife the truth without getting them all killed, take back his son Ben from a school system that is obviously brain washing him AND somehow let the whole town know the truth of their situation without getting them all killed or sending them into suicidal despair.

There was also a very small side story about one of Pilcher’s men who has been out wandering the wilderness, figuring out how to survive amongst the abbeys. Of course, it is revealed that he’s Ethan’s former boss and Theresa’s lover while Ethan was in cold storage. Talk about a drama just waiting to explode and destroy everything! I expect the final book to be rather explosive.

I really liked how Ethan took charge and let the whole secret out of the bag. Consequences or Pilcher’s wrath be damned. This was the whole “Live Free or Die” mentality that I like so much about my state. Sadly, it’s not everyone that can handle it, as most of the United States today proves. * very sad face *

So why the 3.5star rating? Here’s my issues. If the whole human race degenerated in a mere 2000 years, then the humans in Wayward Pines only have 2000 years until their descendants degenerate. Actually, less than 2000 since they have a much smaller gene pool. Throw in “millions” of abbey’s and that number shrinks to probably 1 generation. Pilcher has spent billions of dollars just to play god for 30 to 40 years? The bigger issue for me was how the book ended. I’d classify it as a mega-cliffhanger. The whole town is now open to the abbeys as part of Pilcher’s fit of pique? It didn’t bother me as much as it might have because I have the final book and the choice to go immediately to it or to wait. But since the whole trilogy wasn’t written all at once, it would have totally pissed me off if I was reading these as they came out. Not cool.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, just as much as the first book and I am really looking forward to the final novel in this trilogy.

★★★☆½

bookstooge

 

City of Night (Frankenstein #2) ★★★☆½

cityofnight (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: City of Night
Series: Frankenstein #2
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 482
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Victor Helios is stepping up his campaign of the overthrow of the world with his newmen. Unfortunately for him, some really weird things are starting to happen with his newmen and even though he doesn’t realize it yet, he’s losing control. They are changing, mutating, becoming something completely non-human.

Deucalion is still hamstrung by his inability to harm Victor and so his use of police detectives Carson O’Connor and her partner Michael Maddison continues.

Victor sends some of his assassins after Carson and her autistic younger brother but things don’t go as Victor planned because one of his creations managed to get to them first and put them on guard.

The book ends with the group planning on how to assault Victor and not unleash the wrath of the newmen who have replaced so many key officials in New Orleans.

 

My Thoughts:

This series is one I am glad I didn’t read as it came out. Each “book” ends on a serious cliffhanger and without a lot of resolution. It is really more one big story that has been artificially chunked up into 5 separate books. Knowing that I have it completed and just waiting for me to read, I don’t mind nearly so much. I’m actually reading the omnibus edition, but reading over 1500 pages all at once is just a bit more than I want to deal with. Plus, it’s easier to review 5 smaller chunks than one huge thing like that.

This time around there is no small time villain like in the previous book. It made the cops’ part feel not as needed. A lot more time with the newmen happens and we see some of the happenings as they change. It is wicked creepy and yet perfectly illustrates how evil always turns on itself and destroys itself.

The threat of the newmen is also made a bit more evident in this book. There was at least one incident where the newmen assassins (a couple where the woman is going crazy because she wants a baby but Victor created them unable to have children) simply walked through a hail of 9mm bullets. Being very familiar with the 9mm, as I own a Sig-p938 cbt, it really brought out just how dangerous these beings were. Not immortal, not invincible, but not something that a regular police force could handle. A race of super villains as it were.

Both Carson and Michael come to the realization, and acceptance, that to stop Victor, it will probably cost them their lives. That is a sobering thought to me as a reader. It also makes me want to cheer for them even harder. Heroes.

The ending with the group planning to assault Victor’s secret lab really amped up the tension for me. The lab is filled with newmen, but it is also starting to fill up with the mutations, all of which are wicked nasty and give even the newmen a run for their money in the violence department.

I really wanted to just jump into the next book right away, to see what happens. But I know myself well enough to not start down that path again. I’ll get to the next book in a month or two. That wait won’t hurt me and will help temper any excitement and expectations I may have for book 3.

★★★☆½

bookstooge