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Category Archives: Action Adventure

“Vampire Hunter D” – H. Kikuchi

This is a review of “Vampire Hunter D” which is the first book of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s series about the dhampir D.

It is the year 12,090 A.D. The world has ended, ravaged in a firestorm of man’s wars and madness. Humanity managed to survive the calamity… but they are not alone. Doris Lang knew what her fate was the second the vampire Count Magnus Lee bit her – an agonizing transformation into one of the undead, to be hunted by her fellow villagers, or cursed to become the Count’s eternal bride and thirsting for human blood. There was only one chance, one hope for her: hiring a vampire hunter named D.

The world that is created in this book, is vast. It is complicated and has a lot of history, and there is a need for a good deal of infodumping in order to actually understand what is going on. There is not a single bit of infodumping that isn’t needed or tied to what will happen next, or later on in the book.

The characters in the book can surprise you. Doris and Larmica aren’t weak at all, and Dan is tough. The sheriff and the old doctor and all the people of the little town just do their best to survive in a rather hostile environment. Greco is a force of chaotic neutral who is allowed to be as bad as he wants to be, Rei-Ginsei is someone I would have loved to return in another book. The Count is a bit of a stereotype, but the sci-fi elements of the story help to lessen that considerably.

And as for D himself, he is made to be what we consider today as a Gary Stue, but he is so quiet in action and in speech that this isn’t as painfully obvious as one would think. Even if both Larmica and Doris fall for him instantly, he doesn’t pay either of them any attention, and he is even killed by Rei-Ginsei at one point. There is enough mystery around D to keep reading.

This was a book written all the way back in 1983, and storytelling was different then. This sort of omniscient author wasn’t rare, but at least Kikuchi actually gives us breaks in the infodumping and omniscience with sharp episodes of action and fun. The action scenes are very good, and one can see them happen like in a movie.

The storytelling was, well, not perfect at all. This could be either because the author wasn’t actually all that good, or the translator wasn’t quite up to the task, or a mix of both. Japanese can be a difficult language to translate if one isn’t used to it, so some turns of phrases didn’t quite work out. The author is also an omniscient storyteller with more telling than showing, and that can get a bit annoying.

While not perfect writing, the setting and the mystery surrounding D are very good. The book is also very short, so it doesn’t take long to read. I already have the next four books on order, eagerly waiting to get my hands on them.

I do recommend this!

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Posted by on February 26, 2019 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

 

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“Jurassic Park” – M. Crichton

This is a review of the book “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton.

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now mankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them – for a price. Until something goes wrong….

Let’s admit right away: it is impossible to avoid comparing this book to the movie.

The book offers far more backstory than the movie ever did, which does explain some of the things that might have seemed less logical in the movie. The movie has a more neat storyline, merging some characters and dropping a lot of them to tighten the story and fit it within a 90 minute timeframe, but both book and movie tell the story fully.

Already this early in the franchise Henry Wu was eager to improve on dinosaurs, arguing that the dinosaurs they have made aren’t real and to change them some more wouldn’t matter because no modern human would know. This is an attitude that the character didn’t express until the two Jurassic World movies – probably because he didn’t really have the time in the first movie – and he is given much more to do and more to say in the book.

Gennero is more likable in the book than in the movie. In fact, Gennaro is one of the best people there. Grant likes kids in the book, but not in the movie, which was a bit odd, but generally speaking he is the same as he was in the movie. The progress of the book better described where he learned that a T-rex’s sight is based on movement, which was good. Ian Malcom was more or less the only person who was completely the same in book and in movie, closely followed by John Arnold and Robert Muldoon.

The book is better at building up suspense and thrill and anticipation with small remarks or thoughts, or quick, rapid scene changes that don’t quite give you the full picture. It is all just enough to tease you along and build a sense of growing danger, especially at the start of the story. It is also amusing to recognise dialogue from the book that is used in the movies.

Unfortunately there are some bad things about this book, and they have nothing to do with outdated information about dinosaurs.

Henry Wu’s lack of knowledge about what DNA he has used to compelte the dinosaur DNA, is ridiculous and down right impossible considering his position. John Hammond comes off as quite a stupidly-ignorant man in the book compared to the willfully-ignorant one in the movie. Quite frankly, it’s unlcear how the book-Hammond managed to gather enough money for his project. His grand-dauger, Lex, is younger in the book than in the film, and she acts like a total idiot. Yes, a seven- or eight-year-old will bounce between emotions even in dangerous situations, but not as extremely as Lex does in the book.

Though Ellie Sattler was given her moment to shine towards the end, it wasn’t quite enough to cover that she was largely ignored throughout most of the story. Even in the scenes she was in, she said very little. Gennaro was also inconsistent in his character at the end of the story, being set up as one thing and then suddenly apparently being the total opposite.

A few of the relevations in the book weren’t as surprising or as shocking as they were probably meant to be. Not only because the information was revealed in the movie, but because of the writing in the book itself. The characters’s reactions to the revelations were muted and therefore greatly underwhelmed the surprises.

I am a big fan of the franchise and of dinosaurs in general, so the book was definitely worth the read for me. That means that I will definitely read the second book in the future, no question about that.

I recommend this book!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2019 in Action Adventure, Books

 

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“Subterranean” – J. Rollins

This is a review of the book “Subterranean” by James Rollins.

When a hand-picked team of experts is sent to explore an underground labyrinth in the icy wilderness of Antarctica, they believe themselves to be the first humans at the site. But they’re wrong. A research team has been here before – and they did not return. In the darkness beneath the ice and rock lies a devastating secret, one that will change human history. But as the team dig deeper, they come face to face with a terror that should  never have been disturbed…

The author is excellent at creating suspense and action. The story flowed fast and quick, always something new happening, and there was enough description of the surroundings to make them interesting. The creatures that appear in the book are freakishly dinosaur-like. I would have loved to read more about them because of that alone! The humanoids are fascinating. The entire ecosystem is wonderful to read about simply because it is so believable.

It is also quite enjoyable that the book is an obvious nod towards “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne, or at least inspired by it with a modern twist to it.

The characters are a bit less stock-characters than in the previous book. Ben and Jason are easy to like, as is Linda after a while, and Michaelson. Dr. Blakely was a very nice surprise towards the end, and though the two SEALS that joined the expedition started out stereotypical, one of them grew more real quickly. But I have to admit that the most developed of the lot was Khalid.

Ashley herself, though, is a bit difficult to come to like as a character. She is a bit hot and cold, teetering occasionally on the edge of harlequin romances. It is especially obivous when it comes to her relationship with Ben. Her conjugal scene with Ben was a bit awkward considering the situation they were in. It would have been far more believable if they had sex before the team descended and everything went to hell.

It has the same formulaic approach to the story as the previous book by this author. From a small team being separated from the main group, to the bad guy, and the traitorous other bad guy. This could be because it is a one-shot book and the Sigma Force series is different. It is obvious that the formulae works, and the story is excellent, but it is something to remember.

Conclusion is that though this is a totally okay adventure, I did prefer “Excavation“.

I will, however, continue reading his books.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2018 in Action Adventure, Books

 

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“Pacific Vortex!” – C. Cussler

This is a review of “Pacific Vortex!” by Clive Cussler, chronologically the first book in the many adventures of Dirk Pitt.

Fully armed and with all hands on board, the nuclear submarine Starbuck sailed into the calm Pacific Ocean for sea trials – and vanished. There was no trace of it until ace maritime troubleshooter Dirk Pitt finds a single, chilling clue in the shark-torn surf off Hawaii – the log of the Starbuck. A crazed journal of madness and death that locates the Starbuck’s grave hundreds of miles from her las known position. The search for the submarine plunges Dirk Pitt into his most shattering assignment to date – a whirlpool of deep-sea mystery and terror – the Pacific Vortex!

The story has very good, and very easy writing. It flows quickly and concisely, with great action sequences and exciting adventure. The ideas explored and used are firmly rooted in fact, and it is obvious that the author knows what he is talking about especially when it comes to the maritime aspects. It is a story of a more modern Indiana Jones, treasure hunting and dangers under the sea, and it works very well in deed.

The secondary characters are very well written even if they were a bit shallow. They weren’t anything truly special, nothing to really remember, and their lives and emotions were little explored apart from their place in the story. Still, they were solid and they weren’t useless even in comparison to Dirk Pitt. Al Giordino and Admiral Sandecker being foremost of these characters, and I wish they had been given more screen time.

There was also little to no over-explanation of concepts, maritime terms or other things like that which neatly helps to avoid most of the dreaded “As you know, Bob” conversations. The omniscient tone to the writing wasn’t as annoying as it could have been, which is always a bonus.

There are, however, some bad points.

Dirk Pitt became quite the Gary Stue-like character, and he acted more or less like a bastard most of the time. There wasn’t much to actually like about him even if all other male characters admired him. He keeps on eyeing women at the most inopportune moments, kissing them when underwater caves are flooding around him, and his banter with people seems a bit off and weird. He also has a weird need to keep on ignoring sound advice and logical rules.

The women in the book are rather useless. Most of them were either secretaries there to be ogled. One was a previous one-night stand who continued having a whole bevy of one-night stands, and all she was good for was getting kidnapped and rescued. And the last one, supposedly cold and detached and raised as a cold-blooded killer, fell apart and fell deeply in love with Dirk Pitt after only two meetings. Not only that, but if all the women in the story were removed, it wouldn’t change one whit. That is not good.

I am a big fan of the movie Sahara with Matthew McConaughey and PenĂ©lope Cruz, it was one of the largest reasons why I started reading this Dirk Pitt adventure. I have to admit that I like the movie better, it treated female characters better than this book did. I can only hope that Cussler’s other books are a bit better – especially the series with the husband-and-wife treasure hunter team!

Great adventure and a quick read, but not really special.

I am ambivalent about this one, though I do think I might pick up another Dirk Pitt book in the future.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2018 in Action Adventure, Books

 

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“Excavation” – J. Rollins

This is a review of “Excavation” by James Rollins.

Deep in the South American jungle, Sam Conklin is leading a dig on a lost ancient city when he stumbles upon a sealed door: the portal to secrets and treasures hidden for centuries. As the excavation party descends beneath the ruins they fall victim to ingenious traps laid to ensnare the careless and unsuspecting, and protecting unimaginable wealth. But their perilous journey takes them deeper into the cold, shrouded heart of a breathtaking necropolis, and they find that they are not alone. Something is waiting for them – something ancient, wondrous and terrifying…

The book is fast paced and never boring. Because of the fast pace that simply going and going, it is easy to keep reading and reading. Full of action, adventure and traps, it reads almost like an Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider action adventure movie. In fact, the book would be perfect for a movie adaptation. It is a perfect break from heavy-duty high fantasy or sci-fi books that require a lot of focus, and it is incredibly entertaining as well.

Very little time is spent on describing the surroundings, and for some it might be a bit too little. The segues while people are caught up on what happened to others are a bit too obvious and a bit too often used. There are other ways to bridge a gap without long expositions.

There is a lack of character development, but even so it isn’t a truly bad thing. The story is so short and so quick that there isn’t much time to develop anything really, and though the characters are stereotypical stock characters they are still well written and a joy to read. None of them truly annoyed me, and they occasionally even surprised me in a good way. So, in essence, there isn’t much to complain about at all.

The only bad thing about this book is the way things came together at the end. It was a bit too smooth, a bit too perfect. The shock value of the epilogue would have been far greater if more time had been spent on the monsters when the characters met them. Despite this, though, the ending was satisfactory.

At one point I think there was a mistake made with people knowing the name of a priest, but I am not even certain about this bit.

All in all, I truly do recommend this book.

I have already ordered more books by this author, and I will definitely read them!

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2018 in Action Adventure, Books

 

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