Seven Deadly Wonders by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Seven Deadly Wonders introduces a new character by Matthew Reilly to me, Jack West Jr. It's very hard to follow in the footsteps of Shane 'Scarecrow' Schofield, because, well, he's the man! But I have to say I really do like Jack. What's not to like about him? He's a fun character. Honorable, intelligent, athletic, dedicated, daring, and lethal to the bad guys. And being a girl who grew up on Indiana Jones, and wanted to be her own version of the adventurer, Jack has an Indiana Jones in a modern setting appeal.
I thought this story was a clever idea. I had watched a documentary on The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and they inspired a great awe in this history buff. To read a story in which our intrepid heroes track down these wonders, not for selfish reasons, but to save the world, was both interesting and exciting. This is one of those books I could not read quietly, which makes me happy I wasn't trying to read it in mixed company. It is full of scenes where I gasped out loud regulary, verbally and under my breath yelled insults at the bad guys, cheered and laughed. This is the brilliance of Matt Reilly. He is one of those writers that engages you and gives you a fun read that takes you out of your regular world and into danger and adventure. It's not always without loss or risk, because sometimes you lose characters you grew fond of along the way. In the end though, I know that good will win out. If it didn't in these books, I wouldn't be a Matt Reilly fan anymore.
I liked the found family that I met with Jack and his team. I am a tremendous sucker for a father figure hero. Even though Jack isn't the touchy-feely type, you can tell he loves young Lily like crazy, not as a mere means to an end or a mission. (view spoiler)[ I almost cried when she called him Daddy and it shocked him in a good way. Yes, I am a sap, which you probably know already! (hide spoiler)]
I have to say, I liked that Reilly wasn't afraid to make the Americans the bad guys. In his Q&A, he explained his reasonings and made it clear he has nothing against Americans. I wasn't mad at him anyway, but I tell you, I was hating on the bad guys something fierce. But honestly, he spread some of the bad guy yuck around evenly.
Warning: If you are a Christian, don't take some of the stuff about the Catholic church and the so called origins of some of the tenets of the church (indirectly Christianity) seriously. Before I started getting annoyed, I just rolled my eyes. It's a fiction book, and I am not trying to take offense at that stuff, and I don't think Reilly was trying to criticize or devalue Christianity itself. He has bit of the Illuminati thing going on, but doesn't call them that. Suffice it so say, if you have any conspiracy theory leanings, you will appreciate some of the elements about secret societies in this book.
The writing style isn't erudite or lofty. It's serviceable and casual. I just went with it, and I have to say that it fits the story. I like that Reilly writes fun books. He's not worried about being a member of the literary elite (which is fine with me because I hate book snobbery). At the same time, I felt like he worked hard to deliver a good quality read, and a lot of plotting went into this story. I appreciate the diagrams and illustrations, because I would have given myself an aneurysm trying to visualize a lot of it.
If you have any ancient history geek leanings like myself, here is a writeup on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It's exciting stuff, if you're a nerd, anyway.
As usual, there is some blood and violence. That's sort of Reilly's thing, but he doesn't focus as much on it in this book as in the others I read by him because this is more adventure than action. There are a lot thrills as they navigate dangerous ancient traps and pitfalls to get to the artifacts. Good stuff! I don't like gore much, I did the excitement of the over-the-top action scenes. Some parts had me laughing because they were so crazy!
If you want a fun and educational in a 'doesn't take itself to seriously kind of way' read, with a lovable, larger than life (but rather humble) hero, and a great ensemble, with a cute but highly intelligent little girl thrown in, look no further! (Warning: Run on sentence!) If you like ancient history but want to have fun at the same time, this book is for you. If you watched Indiana Jones a lot and still haven't moved on, check out Seven Deadly Wonders!
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars
Richard Armitage as Jack West, Jr.
Horus, Jack's pet Falcon
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