Monday, May 02, 2011

Area 7 by Matthew Reilly

Area 7 (Shane Schofield, #2)Area 7 by Matthew Reilly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Warning: Do not read this book if you cannot suspend your disbelief about the seemingly improbable events that occur during action sequences. If you can’t do this, you will not enjoy this book. If you can, then hang on for the wild ride. No one, and I do mean no one, writes action scenes like Matthew Reilly. I reached for this book for precisely that reason.

Reading one of his books is like watching an action movie on steroids. I was laughing and cheering out loud throughout this book, and I could feel my heart beating fast as the tension of not knowing what would come next had me in its grip.

Although there are definitely some scenes that make you roll your eyes because you are having a “yeah, right” moment, it’s clear that Matt Reilly did his research. He started with an idea, and he developed the background to make his idea come to life. And in the process, he wrote a story that definitely gave me something to worry about. Because he poses the question of what group has the greatest potential to take over this country. Easy answer if you think about it: a Branch of the United States Armed Forces. Why, because they have access to many of the installations containing some of this countries greatest tactical assets: high tech planes and ballistic missiles. And something else even worse. If you guessed the US Air Force, then 10 points to you. It so happens that the President is visiting one of the most mysterious Air Force bases; a good time to put their plan into action.

Only they didn’t plan on US Marine Captain Shane ‘Scarecrow’ Schofield being part of the President’s protection detail. The great thing about these books is that Shane has the deck stacked against him the whole time, and the cards only pile up higher as time passes. However, this is not a man who gives up. He uses the advantages he has available, which often involves some quick thinking on his part. Schofield is a hero you can get behind. He’s a decent human being, not a killing machine, unless he has to be. And he will get the job done, no matter what. After going through the crazy experience in Antarctica with Scarecrow (written about in Ice Station), I definitely love the guy. His surviving team members, Gant (who Shane has a budding relationship with) and Mother (a tough as nails 6’4” shaved-head female marine) are also along for the ride to help save the day.

The villains don’t particularly stand out, other than being loathsome human beings with no sense of loyalty (beyond their own sinister agendas), and bloodthirsty murderers, but this book is so fast-paced, you don’t really miss the character depth. Again, this is the kind of book you pick up when you want an edge of your seat, action-driven story. And you will definitely get that.
Despite its quick pace, I felt the story was pretty solid. This is one of those books you have to pay attention to when you read, because cues will be planted in earlier scenes that will play a pivotal role later on. It helps to appreciate Scarecrow and the other good guys for their quick-thinking and adaptability under fire.

The body count is high in this one, so I’d warn especially squeamish readers. I admit that I would probably flinch if I was seeing some of this on the big screen, and I did a bit when I was reading. But it adds to the sense of risk that good guys do die, and you feel a sense of validation when the bad guys die ugly. Trust me, they deserve it in this book.

Matt Reilly really knows how to bring it. I always enjoy myself when I read his books. And Scarecrow and his crew are just awesome. Glad to read another one of their adventures.

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