Thriller Junkie

A suspense novel review and discussion blog.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Review - Altered Carbon

Book Review

Book: Altered Carbon
Author: Richard K. Morgan
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: ****

I just read the coolest sci-fi novel. I haven't read a lot of Sci-Fi lately as I have been so engrossed in the suspence writers recently, but this one caught my eye.

Richard K. Morgan, who was inspired by Phillip Dick, has created a new series of novels focusing on a hero named Takeshi Kovacs. The cool thing about this series is that it is written like an old Marlowe or Sam Spade noir novel, but with the twist of taking place in the 25th century where technology has made death itself irrelevant. It is like a 25th Century detective novel, but the main character, instead of being an ordinary private detective, is an ex-supercommando type that tends to resolve situations in his own favor.

When a person dies in the 25th century, their conscience can simply be "resleeved" into a new or used body, thus allowing one to never die.This little twist makes for a lot of great conceptual plot lines and allows for a new line of thought.

The setting is very noir, and the writing is very stylized to allow for a sense of the character. Although not quite at the level of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Morgan does justice to his mentor and creates a very believable, world where almost everything seems to have been thought of.

The deconstructionist future setting and noir stylizations make this a very readable book for sci-fi fans and if you like adventure novels like Cussler's, You will find this just as satisfying.

P.S. The sequel, Broken Angels is almost as good.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Review - Bernard Cornwell's Vagabond series

Series Review

Books: The Archer's Tale, Vagabond and Heretic
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: ***

This is a review of a set of three books that make up the Vagabond series written by Bernard Cornwell. I do not usually go for the historical novel genre, but this set was exceptional. It was entertaining, very interesting and had a very well structured storyline. It was not a thriller, but it had all the elements that suspense novelists like in a toned-down format.

The first book, The Archer's Tale, takes you to Europe in 1342 to follow Thomas of Hookton on a mission to avenge his slain father. Little did he know it would turn into a race to find the Holy Grail itself. The novel is fast-paced and when you finish it, you will frantically run to the bookstore to buy parts 2 and 3. The 100 years war is detailed in all its glory while maintaining a tight storyline around Thomas' adventure.

The second book, Vagabond, Thomas is five years older and is now embroiled in the business of war, almost forgetting about his quest, but circumstances push him toward his destiny. Once again, Cornwell engages the reader with his intricate character development mixed with historical interest.

The third and final installment, Heretic ties up all the loose ends and gives us a satisfying conclusion to the various threads that are woven through the story. Thomas must overcome the fears brought by the inquisition and becomes a fugitive to save an innocent victim of the Church. This leads to an extremely well executed finale that makes you wish Cornwell had written a fourth episode.

If you are at all squeamish and don't like any of the realism of how tough life was back then, you may want to think twice about reading these, but they are the best novels of their kind that I have read to date.

A word of warning, this is the same author that wrote the Sharpe series about a 17th century British naval officer, a more drama-oriented set of works. The Vagabond series is more of an adventure novel that concentrates more on the conditions of the times than the intricacies of the military. Also, the series is more sophisticated and an easier read than his novel Stonehenge which is so simplistic in its devices that I could not get past the 12th chapter before giving up on getting sucked into a story.

I give the series a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tribute to Koontz

To kick this party off, I thought I would let everyone know who my favorite author is (at least at the moment) - Dean Koontz. Oh sure, I like a good Clive Cussler or James Rollins novel, but I have a particular affinity for the supernatural in my thrillers and Koontz delivers a great story.
Also, he is not quite as morbid as Stephen King, which should appeal to a wider audience.

If you have never read a Koontz novel before, he has two totally different styles of books: 1. The extreme suspense psycho-thriller where the protagonist is in constant danger throughout the entire novel and the twists and turns are enough to leave you car-sick... and 2. The thoughtful bizarre adventures of protagonists with special abilities or powers that either put them in a sticky situation or are the only way they get out.

If #1 is more your style, I suggest starting with his novel, Intensity. This will be an introduction you won't forget (It prompted me to read 12 more of his novels). This is a wildly suspensful and shocking novel that pushes you to the edge of your chair and doesn't let you move back. I think it is arguably one of his best novels. Other Koontz novels of this type include Mr. Murder and Velocity.

If #2 is more your style, I suggest his mini-series about Christopher Snow. The first book is Seize the Night and the second is called Fear Nothing. Unlike Koontz' extreme suspense thrillers, this is more of a journey of curiosity and wonder. The protagonist is extremely likeable and within a few chapters, you don't want to put the books down. I would read Seize the Night first, because Fear Nothing is kind of a sequel. Other Koontz novels of this genre that I enjoyed were Odd Thomas, The Servants of Twilight, Midnight and By the Light of the Moon.

He has dozens of other books as well, making his novels a long-term addiction. Several other writers that I have found deserving of note that include an element of the supernatural (if not to the same extent as Koontz) include James Rollins and Matthew Reilly.

I will occasionally write quick overviews of an author or category of author to begin a discussion line. Any other Koontz fans out there?

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Thats all...

Welcome to my blog!

Fiction novels are an exciting pasttime for many readers out there and there is a vast range of styles and effectiveness when it comes to the writer's ability to carry you into his or her world and keep you hurtling along at breakneck speeds. I have read a great deal of thriller, science-fiction and adventure novels and have created this blog to get more discussion flowing to highlight great finds and get people more excited about the genre.

This is not a blog for romance novels, cookbooks, or how-to books. This is about the fast-action, keep you on the edge of your seat suspense novels and thrillers ranging from the supernatural to the sublime. Works ranging from the likes of Koontz, King, Ludlum, and Patterson to the adventures of Cussler to the sci-fi of Phillip Dick are what this blog is here to discuss.

I am interested in what people think and what mix of authors they like. I will post reviews occasionally of books I read that I felt were noteworthy (Either alerting you of must reads or warning you of time-wasters). I encourage all to read as much as you can and contribute whatever you want to the blog. If you write a good review, I will post it and give you a soap box to stand on.

Feel free to browse around and focus on what interests you. I will try to keep the blog organized to make it easy for you to find topics and reviews quickly and keep them interesting and informative.

Thanks for visiting!