Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Book Review: Scarecrow Returns


Hey all Counterfett here. Been doing a little more reading as I don't want to get too much farther into SWTOR until I have my new and improved graphics card (which I have been promised will be here any day now). So expect a few more of these coming up, eh?

Scarecrow Returns (apparently also titled Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves) is the belated follow up to the 2005 novel Scarecrow. Here thar be spoilers, so if you haven't read Scarecrow, avert yer eyes. There, you've been warned. I loved Scarecrow. And Area 7, and Ice Station. I never read the eNovella Hell Island, but I'm sure I would have dug it. That's the whole Scarecrow series, for those keeping track. If you're not familiar, Matthew Reilly writes books that read like an action movie. It sounds terrible, but it's actually quite relaxing, as long as you don't take it too seriously. There's always something going on. More than just mindless action, however, there are usually a few layers of subterfuge and hidden meaning woven in as well. Nothing too mind-bending, but amusing nonetheless.

In this installment, a terrorist organization called the Army of Thieves have seized a Russian research station on the edges of the Arctic ice, and are preparing to use an ex-Soviet doomsday device. When the SEAL assault and nukes fail, the world's last hope is a USMC science team led by psychologically scarred Marine Captain Shane Schofield.

PROS:
  • Action. This is a book for riding the train or a long flight. As mentioned above there is always something going on. Miss a paragraph? No biggie, someone else will be in a roaring gun-battle wherever your eyes happen to hit the page again. It's oddly relaxing...like that action movie you watch again and again while you are doing something else. Comfort reading.
  • Scarecrow! While he's an absurdly over the top indomitable style hero, Schofield still manages to come across as a real guy. Bad crap has happened to him, and he's lost it, but he keeps plugging along, trying to hold it all together.
  • MOTHER! Mother might be my favorite off beat anti-hero in literary history. If you don't agree, well, fine, that's your call...but you're missing on some seriously old fashioned bro-mance. Except Mother is, well, a woman.
CONS:
  • The Arctic. Catch up at the beginning how I mentioned the first book Ice Station? Well, it was a very well done book, all things considered, but it was at the South Pole. Scarecrow Returns happens at the North Pole. "But those are two totally opposite ends of the Earth, Counterfett!" I hear you, I do, but from a literary standpoint, the Arctic and Antarctica are the same place. As locales go, I felt like Scarecrow and his merry band of marauders had been here done this.
  • Renard. I don't mean the Character. Champion...code name: Renard was a decent enough character idea. I just don't like what her name represents. I speak French, so I caught it way before the big reveal at the ending. Your mileage may vary, and Reilly is not the most subtle of authors, but dang man, that's a bit on the nose. (Hint: Libby Gant's call-sign in the first three books is Fox)
  • Science! This didn't bother me, but I like the symmetry of the three-pros-three-cons thing I got going here, so bear with me. The doomsday device, many of the other things tested on the russian base, and even much of the physics involved in many of the chase scenes is preposterous. There, I've said it. If you're super into realism, this might not be your bag. If, on the other hand, you can watch a James Bond movie without screaming at the screen, you should be fine.
Well, kids, that's all for now. I sort of regret that the original Scarecrow books came out before I started this blog so I never had a chance to review them. I might go back and do that at some point. The whole series is rather enjoyable, so if you've a hankering, give one a shot. They stand alone fairly well, but that said, I do think Ice Station is the place to start for the most impact vis-a-vis the Fox situation.

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