Monday, September 26, 2005

Book 40

"Area 7" by Matthew Reilly

I've been meaning to read a Matthew Reilly book for a while now.
I read the mini-book that was given away a few months ago ("Hell Island" it's called), and so had a small introduction to the characters and style. The principle character is Marine Corps (US Marines, that is) Captain Paul "Scarecrow" Schofield and like Harris with his Lecter, Reilly loooooves Schofield. Of course, if I wrote a book about a character that rocketed me to fame and fortune, I might feel an affection for them too.

The basic plot is that a Presidential visit to the eponymous secret Air Force facility in Utah gets a little complicated when a rebel faction of the USAF take him hostage and place him in a contest to fight for his life. Enter Schofield and his team to save the day. Eventually.

Much like Michael Crichton's later work, this reads like a novel just waiting to be optioned by Hollywood. In fact, I think it already has been. The action is tight, the combat sequences quite well written and the tension... well, I never felt like anyone was in any real danger. Probably because of the Harris/Leter factor, I think. I couldn't see Reilly snuffing any of these characters that he loves so much. Also, the novella-ette that I read is set after this one, so I knew they were okay.

There were, however, three very annoying stylistic elements to Reilly's work that frustrated the hell out of me. He has a habit, when things are getting really exciting, of placing key phrases in italics, so that Schofield will duck out of the way just as burning wreckage is about to crush him. Similarly, Reilly will occasionally place an exclamation point at the end of a really exciting sentence! And last but not least, he uses onomatopeic (sp?) words as their own sentence. In fact, on more than one occasion he employed all three devices in the one sentence, and so a mag-hook is launched up into an elevator shaft and kerchunk! finds it's mark. I guess these little things annoy me because I want the writing to emphasise and excite me, not the writer. Do you see what I mean? I have been genuinely excited and thrilled by action sequences in books ranging from Gibson cyberpunk to Pratchett fantasy, all without the writer specifically drawing attention to exciting bits. I don't want to see the strings, just enjoy the puppet show.

Overall, I'd rate Reilly as ideal airport or holiday fodder. Quick to read, easy to enjoy but leaving me wanting something more.

Two and a half death-defying escapes out of five

Oh, and PS: The FN P90 is an SMG (Sub machine gun) or PDW (Personal Defence Weapon). It is not an Assault Rifle. The AK47 is an Assault Rifle. Or the M16. The Wikipedia and even the manufacturer seem to agree.

The P90:
The AK47 and M16:


Blogger Euan said...

Of cours,e having had my wee SMG/Assault Rifle rant I realise that the P90s in Reilly's world have 100 round magazines, so maybe they're a rifle variant. Still, given the point of the weapon is to be compact and stuff, that'd be like saying you wanted a variant of the BMX Z4 roadster that was twice as long and on a wider wheel base. In other words, why?

12:13 PM  

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