Wednesday, February 20, 2013

SEAL Team 666 by Weston Ochse

SEAL Team 666: A NovelSEAL Team 666: A Novel by Weston Ochse

My rating: 3.25 of 5 stars

Jack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more weeks.  But he’s pulled out of training early, and drafted into an ultra-secret, elite SEAL team, one that has an unusual team number.  This team fights threats against the free world that are supernatural in origin.  And Jack is specially equipped to be a member.  For the dark scars of his youth mark him with a special ability to sense evil. 

I liked the idea of this book, a military special ops story with a supernatural twist.  Ochse’s attention to detail as far as military ops lends credibility to the writing.  I really appreciated the look at how a SEAL team operates and the whole involved procedure of keeping the world safe, top secret-style, with the ancillary support of various defense agency personnel.  His focus seems to be more on this than the supernatural component, but he grafts together the two aspects of the story fairly well.  Still this book seemed thin to me.  Like it was serviceable, but merely scratching the surface of possibilities.  Yes, I think that was the big issue I had with this book. It lacked depth.

I wanted more character exploration.  While I felt I did get to know Jack fairly well, I didn’t get more than a surface portrayal of most of the others.  I realize that the story occurs in a short period of time, but I had this feeling that the characters merely existed to move the story, or to get killed off.  That saddened me.  The death of a team member and the ritual associated with his passing, had more time spent on it than seeing that team member as a living, breathing human.  Of course, death is an everyday experience for these men.  They know they could die on any mission they undertake.  But I needed to know them better, because knowing someone is part of the process of caring for them, that they live and die for a purpose.  Otherwise, our mental health defenses build a wall between us and the suffering of others in the world, because to cry for every person who dies will destroy you. We just don’t have that capacity.    But if you know someone, even a little, it breaks your heart to know they have died.  To introduce a character only to kill them without much effort to infuse depth makes a mockery of that.  I really dislike the tendency towards presenting characters as sacrificial lambs in a story. Just enough to introduce a character and then they get killed off.  I felt this was a shortcoming of this novel.

The action is well done.  The pace was intense and appropriate.  I got the real sense that I was going on ops with these guys.  In this case, all in relation to the supernatural threats in this book.   If even possible, that brings a higher level of threat to the situation.  There’s only so much a gun can do against an undead, immortal threat, or one from a world of strangeness that doesn’t follow the rules that govern this physical one.

The supernatural storyline was intriguing and definitely horrific.  Ochse does build the sense of wrongness and weirdness that would disturb an average person.    I like a weird supernatural story like nobody’s business, but I had some moments where I was thinking, “That’s just wrong!” Imagine being a SEAL, trained to eliminate lethal threats all around the world, but previously naïve to the supernatural darkness in this world. You have to keep moving and do your job, and you don’t have time for “WTFs”.    So yes, that part was very well done.  The particular threat they faced in this book felt novel and very intimidating, and the author ties it into things going on in the world arena.  While the climax was too abrupt for my tastes, it definitely had impact, and as I said, I enjoyed the action moments.

With this book, I had that feeling that everything was scratching the surface when I wanted things to get deeper. With an intriguing storyline like this, I get excited to see what journey the author will take me on.  Overall, this was a book that kept me reading.  It was a pretty good book.   A nice mélange of spec ops action and supernatural weirdness.  I think the author could have given me more as far as characterization, which is the biggest shortcoming of this novel.  However, I would keep reading this if it becomes a series.

Overall rating: 3.25/5.0 stars.

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