Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

The Judas Strain

JudasThe Judas Strain by James Rollins

—–

Last week, I was discussing with a friend of mine our mutual affinity for a killer premise.  During the discussion, James Rollins came up, and lo and behold, the day after we had the discussion, I found The Judas Strain, the latest from Rollins, waiting for me on my desk.  Serendipity?  I suppose.  But, knowing the basic premise of most Rollins novels, it’s probably something far more mystical and sinister.

In his latest, Rollins returns to Sigma Force, which is starting to become more and more like a team straight out of a Clive Cussler novel.  This time, they’re investigating an outbreak of a poisonous cyanobacteria in the Indian Ocean on a cruise ship, which of course brings the Guild, the Sigma Force’s arch-enemy (think S.P.E.C.T.R.E.), back into the picture.  And, if you know anything about Rollins’ basic style, you’ll know that this isn’t just some sea-faring adventure; the story combines archeology and mysticism into the mix, making it something akin to an Indiana Jones story.

Of course, the problem with this type of story is that it’s full of plotholes and moments where you’ll say to yourself, “There’s no way these people would really make these sorts of decisions!”  Luckily, they’re not so bad that they’re detract too much from the story.  Because, really, this book is all about the adventure, so it’s easy to overlook some structural problems along the way.

My own biggest issue with the book was that it borrowed a bit too much from The Da Vinci Code.  The quest took the characters across different ancient cities, looking for the clues that would take them to the next ancient city, and there were even little tokens with clues embedded into them to keep them moving.   Other than that, though, the story kept moving, and kept me engrossed.

So, the book was released in early July, just in time for most people who are heading to the beach.  I doubt that’s any coincidence, either, since it’s a perfect beach read.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the release date is part of some grand ploy of the Guild’s to make vacationers less productive while on vacation….

July 14, 2007 Posted by | Adult Fiction, Reviews | Leave a comment

Emily Edison

EdisonEmily Edison by David Hopkins and Brock Rizy

—–

Anyone who likes cartoons will probably pick up this book, just to browse the artwork. In fact, anyone who watched Ren and Stimpy, or anything that John Kricfalusi created, will recognize the style. The foreword to the book even talks about how cartoons influenced the book, and how anyone who grew up on the Looney Tunes cartoons will find a kindred spirit with this book. I love cartoons, and I enjoyed Ren and Stimpy, but for whatever reason, this graphic novel fell flat with me.

The story is about a young girl, Emily Edison, whose father is an inventor who created a temporal rift with a quantum vacuum cleaner, and whose mother is a princess in the dimension that Emily’s father discovered. Her parents divorced, and she spends time between the two dimensions, but her grandfather in the other dimension wants for Emily to stay in the other dimension. His plan is to destroy Earth, so that Emily has no choice in where she chooses to live.  It’s a little weird, but the story doesn’t presume to be anything more than an adventure romp, so it works.

The thing is, I had the same problem with this graphic novel as I did with Rocketo; I couldn’t follow the action.  This is partly because there was so much going on in the panels, and the art was impressionistic enough that it was hard for me to figure out the details of what was happening.  Ultimately, I was just moving through the panels, instead of really understanding them, just to figure out who won, who was hurt, etc.

Interestingly enough, I find that a lot of the more modern action movies give me the same trouble.  It’s as if the directors try to pack so much action into every scene that the viewer can’t distinguish between everything that’s happening.  At least, I can’t.  And I found the same thing happening with this graphic novel.  Maybe it’s a generational thing, since this book is marketed toward the younger crowd.

And, to be frank, I think that’s another reason the story failed with me.  There just wasn’t enough to keep me interested.  I expect that if I were 15 or 16, then the perils of step-siblings, crushes, school, and exams would be more compelling to me; as it is, it’s just a reflection that I’ve lost touch a bit with what passes for entertainment now.

I suppose this is a fine enough graphic novel for its age group, but I wouldn’t recommend it to teens, what with Sandman, Bone, and Fables out there.  I guess if they were finished with all the great graphic novels, they might find something interesting in this story, but I’d hate it if someone just getting into the genre would start with this one.  It just might turn them off from the form entirely.

July 14, 2007 Posted by | Graphic Novels, Reviews, YA Fiction | Leave a comment