Thursday, November 11, 2010

REVIEW: "Pandora's Succession" by Russell Brooks

Imagine a biological weapon so incredibly powerful, it can "eat" through a human in mere minutes. Now imagine that weapon in the hands of a terrorist, a terrorist so elusive and terrifying you don't even know where to start looking. Ridley Fox finds himself in the position of hunting down this weapon, and he is misled every step of the way. Never knowing who to trust, he is led on a whirlwind adventure to try to take control of this deadly weapon in order to safeguard all of humanity. Every time Ridley thinks he's made progress, there is a another surprise waiting to smack him upside the head and keep him on the chase. Time is running out; will he be able to accomplish his mission? Or will most of the world be wiped out by a cloud of red?

Russell Brooks  has created an action thriller that is immediately engaging, as well as terrifying, quickly drawing in readers. This fast-paced adventure offers a different take on bioterrorism and its potential uses. The results are altogether scary, as you find yourself pondering the potential reality of this plot. This book reads like it was meant to be an action-packed thriller on the silver screen. It is pretty well-edited and the writing is clean and easy to read. The book moves along quickly, but some of the pacing seemed a bit "off" for me. Some of the secrets were revealed a little earlier than I would have expected, and something about the pacing of character introductions threw me off a little. I can't quite put a finger on what it was, but it just didn't "flow" as well as I would have liked.

Although I think that would make a fabulous and entrancing movie- one I would surely line up to see- it left me a little cold as a book. I found the writing to be a little "sterile," leaving it completely up to the reader to do a lot of interpretation to add feeling and emotion to the story. In a movie, this would be the actor's job to interpret. In a book, I like a little more "voice" to help me imagine the characters and the scenes. In that same vein, the characters were not fully developed, and, as a result, their conversations didn't ring completely "true." It's not that the writing style was bad, it really wasn't. I just wanted a little more "flesh" to help me engage more completely in the storyline. I really want to be inside a character's head, or at least be able to imagine what it might be like to be in there. Motivations were explained, but I wanted to actually feel them, not just read about them.

Sidenote that will not apply to all: When I used my sony software to download the pdf onto my reader, it made for some really bizarre font styling. I've never quite seen any other pdf do that on my reader or my reader software.  There were at least 3 font sizes randomly changing throughout the entire book in the middle of sentences and even words, making for a really "unique" reading experience. When I tried to reload, I got the same result. I ended up reading the book on the computer instead, using the original pdf. Perhaps it's a Sony glitch, but it's a first for me! Even in the original pdf copy read on the computer, there were a few different sizes on the characters' "thoughts" which were written in an italic font. This only impacted a few sentences every few pages, and it wasn't terribly distracting, but it just seemed odd. (I tried to copy and paste a sample here, but it didn't work.) Anyone know what would cause that?

For readers who don't focus on character development and motivation, and are much more interested in events in fast-paced action thrillers, this can be the perfect story for you! There are just a few days left on Russell Brooks' "Stop the Succession" tour, so check it out to find more reviews, interviews, and general book information. Buy "Pandora's Succession" here!

3.5 /5 stars

ETA: Russell Brooks has commented that he is working to get other formats up and running, and the issues I had with the formatting will not be a problem at that point.

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