Customer Reviews


76 Reviews
5 star:
 (28)
4 star:
 (18)
3 star:
 (17)
2 star:
 (10)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super alternate historical post-apocalyptic thriller
Several years have passed since the catastrophic wave of energy destroyed the United States killing millions in 2003 that came like a tsunami Without Warning; scientists remain baffled as to the cause and why it abruptly vanished a year later. President Kipper and the White House moved to Seattle where the new America is formed in the Pacific Northwest (see Without...
Published on April 10, 2012 by Harriet Klausner

versus
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slower-paced, but still OK
The concluding books of a trilogy are usually a bit disappointing because much of the novelty of the saga's "universe" and much of its plot and character development have been told in the first two books. The familiarity starts to wear thin by the last book.

That is definitely true here. I thought the first book of the trilogy WITHOUT WARNING rated five stars,...
Published on April 10, 2012 by Alan F. Sewell


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slower-paced, but still OK, April 10, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Angels of Vengeance (Hardcover)
The concluding books of a trilogy are usually a bit disappointing because much of the novelty of the saga's "universe" and much of its plot and character development have been told in the first two books. The familiarity starts to wear thin by the last book.

That is definitely true here. I thought the first book of the trilogy WITHOUT WARNING rated five stars, and the second book AFTER AMERICA was even better, being flawless in plot, action, and characterization...and especially enlightening as to the chaotic world that would be left if 96% of the U.S. population suddenly disappeared.

Because the first two books are so excellent, there is a bit of a letdown here. The first few chapters move very fast and then the pace slows down. There's just not that much to add to the story line that hasn't been told in the first two books.

Despite being on the slow side toward the end, the book does have its high points. Here is what I liked:

* The exploits of the Echelon operative Caitlin Monroe are well told. Caitlin's character is fleshed out and gives us the feeling that we're reading about a real person instead of a plot device.

* The infiltration and combat sequences seem realistic without being cartoonish in a James Bond sort of way.

* The characters are complete. Birmingham knows how to portray characters as real human beings. The "good guys" have their weaknesses and most of the "bad guys" have some virtues. No human being is all-white or all-black. The book shows how people make difficult compromises to cope with dreadfully difficult circumstances. For example, it suggests that some of the defeated jihadist prisoners who were captured after infesting America's depopulated East Coast might be granted American citizenship in return for agreeing to join our armies and fighting for us against other enemies for ten years.

* The story line is realistic. The book explains in a very rational sort of way how the United States would go about rebuilding itself if 96% of our people suddenly vanished in an incomprehensible natural catastrophic event (In this trilogy the extinction event happens to be an energy "wave" of unknown cosmic origin). The 4% who are left as survivors would have an immense but not insurmountable job on their hands. The country WOULD be set on the path of recovery, WOULD remain true to our founding principles, and WOULD be repopulated by new immigrations of foreign-born citizens, just as it was populated the first time around.

* The book concludes the trilogy satisfactorily with all the issues of plot development resolved, except in regard to the origin of the inscrutable "wave" that began the trilogy by instantaneously depopulating most of North America.

However, I think the book would have been improved by a couple of additional discussions:

* The surviving outlying territories of the USA such as Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico might have been discussed more. If the events had actually transpired, P.R. would have been the greatest concentration of surviving U.S. citizens. One would expect a lot To be going on in these areas that were spared the obliteration of CONUS. But they are barely mentioned.

* Nothing at all is discovered about the ever-inscrutable "wave" that depopulated most of the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Cuba. The "wave" was selective in causing 100% destruction of human beings under its footprint, but otherwise leaving the other animal and plant ecology undisturbed. Surely SOMETHING would have been learned about the nature of the "wave." Was it a natural or biological force? Where did it go? Will it ever return? I understand the author's reasons for wanting to keep the "wave" mysterious rather than becoming a character in its own right, but still you'd think the characters would be talking about it more. You'd think they'd worry to some degree about the wave maybe returning after they moved into the area that had been inside its footprint.

These criticisms aside, I enjoyed the book, even after skimming past some "slow" chapters. If you liked WITHOUT WARNING and AFTER AMERICA you'll want to read this one in order to capture the totality of John Birmingham's vision of the USA destroyed and reconstructed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a different post-apocalypse, June 20, 2012
This review is from: Angels of Vengeance (Hardcover)
"Angels of Vengeance", by John Birmingham, is the third in a series of related books. I read it as a stand alone since I have not read earlier books by Birmingham. In the early pages this looks like a near future military ops thriller - heavy on the specs and tech, but with a post war collapse having happened. However, the book is set in the year 2008, but this isn't "Our" 2008; we have an alternate history happening here. I felt at a disadvantage as a reader through much of the book, not having more backstory on the political situation in the Americas and especially the event that decimated the United States, presumably, from the earlier novels. Some books in a series are nearly impossible to read and enjoy as a stand alone. Luckily "Angels of Vengeance" is not one of those. We are given enough information as we read this to appreciate and enjoy the plot.

As a reader I was pulled right in to the story. The book has action and adventure - we start right off with an operative being dropped from a Black Hawk chopper into the jungle in enemy territory, but the story also contains a full measure of drama and politics and some intrigue. This isn't all wham/bam military SF - it is a well rounded story. I do think I would have appreciated more action than we get however. The political part of the novel really did not interest me much, and I think it should have. I wasn't able to identify/sympathize with the characters surrounding and including the President and for the most part the intrigue was lost on me.

Birmingham is a descriptive writer and we get a good sense of our surroundings. The operative, Caitlan Monroe, is a strong character in the book and I was caught up in her story quickly. Overall, I think I appreciated the story arc of another main character, Sofia Pieraro, more. Character description are one of the best parts of the writing. We really get a feel for who Caitlan and Sofia are, as well as other characters in the novel, major and minor. Birmingham writes with well paced shifting points of view among several primary and some minor characters in short chapters and we get a sense of this different new world in the process. The United States has essentially been eliminated from the picture by a mysterious event that depopulated the country. At the time of the novel there has already been resettlement in some parts of the country by immigrants from around the world. It bothered me at the end that this central mystery of what wiped out the United States was never explained. What we do see is a remnant United States with still a strong will to endure and carry forward and rebuild itself. In that sense this is different take on many (most?) post-collapse dystopian novels. Would the world be a better place without the United States as a superpower? That is something we examine a bit in reading the novel, but really a lot of the book is about individual characters and dealing with the new reality. Birmingham goes to some lengths to suggest that what occurs is an echo of the original growing pains of the Unted States and that similar situations will arise in the rebirth of the United States, and the past should be our guide to the future.

I had no trouble following the shifting focal points of the story. There is a large cast of characters spread among the various story arcs. There is a nice character list and locales at the start of the book that I liked having for reference, if one needs a quick check to remember who someone is, but I didn't have any problems. This was an enjoyable read, but not much above what I consider a good average story. I don't mean to dismiss this in any way. It was a good story, well handled and I do plan to fit in a reading of the earlier books in this series at a later date. I think the story would be a stronger one for me if I had read the earlier novels in this series.

I received a copy of this book for review through the LibraryThing early reviewers program.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Get off the hovercraft and work!, May 12, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Angels of Vengeance (Hardcover)
I loved the first three books, I liked the first book in this series, less so the second, and this one has been phoned in while sipping the odd brew or throwing another kangaroo on the barbie.
This guy s a really talented writer - too bad he has stopped working at it.
The last six I bought as soon as they came out - next I wait for the second hand copy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Satisfactory, but Just, April 28, 2012
By 
English Prof (Brownsville, Texas) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Birmingham's latest opus follows a group of characters including a tortured young Latina seeking justice for her family, a sort of super female assassin working for "Echelon," a rogue general on the verge of taking Texas out of the union, and an everyman President determined to somehow make sense out of the shambles of the United States. Sound like a witch's brew with lots of opportunity for plot development? It is. Alas, following all of these characters, and more, as they try to make sense out of their new world, somehow just isn't as interesting for me as I found the earlier "Axis of Time" trilogy. This is to take nothing away from the author. His mastery of characterization is particularly impressive, but the whole "Without Warning" series seems to me to lack the punch of the "Axis of Time." Very occasionally, as for example, when he comments on the changes to Australian society as a consequence of the Wave, does he go off into the innovative territory so tellingly explored in the "Axis of Time." For me, this is a disappointment, and of course, as a military fiction junkie, I find the personal combat of his protagonists less inherently interesting than some of his large set pieces in earlier works. All that said, the book is still interesting and fun, and while I found the first half rather slow, I found the last half to be paced far better to the point where I really did want to know how the problems set up would be resolved.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ambition Derailed, September 26, 2012
By 
Jeffrey Swystun (Toronto & Mont Tremblant) - See all my reviews
This three book series commenced with a fantastic premise. The first entry, Without Warning, set in 2003 leveraged real situations of that time but then introduced "a wave of energy" that largely knocked the U.S. out as a superpower. This set in motion an extremely ambitious series covering the impact and reactions to this event. Without Warning had mystery, thrills, and a vivid post-apocalyptic setting that kept the pages turning. Unfortunately Angels of Vengeance was much like the second instalment, After America. Both became bogged down in too many competing plots, stereotypical characters, and a general lack of direction. Perplexing was the perpetually unexplained event, super spies and their organization, and many ho-hum pages given to political machinations of the new U.S. Birmingham takes on big landscapes as evidenced by his previous Axis of Time trilogy. For that he should be commended. I look forward to future efforts but hope that he tightens up his focus so less will be much more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but not his best, August 1, 2012
This review is from: Angels of Vengeance (Hardcover)
I've read both series and while I'll continue to read Mr Birmingham's work, this was not his best effort. The world he re-imagined in the first two books was made much smaller in this one. I would have liked to have more mentioned about other area's of the US, the Middle East and Asia. If this is simply another book ina longer series then I'm sure it will fit fine but if this is all we get I'm disappointed. Haing served almost 20 years in the US Military, John does an excellant job with the jargon and details of US equipment and relative tactics of the units. I've been stationed in and around the Kansas City area several times and he gets the whole region spot on. In any event , keep writing and I'll keep buying them.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's My Cup Of Tea?, July 14, 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Angels of Vengeance (Hardcover)
I eagerly awaited the release of this book, the 3rd in this series, but unfortunately the opportunity to purchase it and read it came too quickly for my liking as the anticipation of obtaining the book and thereafter reading it was more exciting than having paid for it, actually reading it, and realising that you most likely spent too much for what you get. Books 1 & 2 were absolutely riviting and I could not put either tome down until they were finished. This 3rd book however; well I think I must have read 7 or 8 other books intersperced between picking up Angels of Vengeance, reading some, and then putting it back down again for something just a bit more riviting. There is an old adage - 'never judge a book by its cover' and Angels of Vengeance is a case in hand. The cover is very missleading (it could easily have been used for the 2nd book in this series) as there is no airel combat in this story. In fact there is very little combat to speak of at all. I felt that too much was written about "fluffy stuff" add ons to the main storyline that quite frankly did not need to be there (this was one of the main reasons why I kept putting the book down and reading something else). Too much time was spent describing the country side, or someones 'feelings'; book 1 & 2 set the scene beautifully however book 3 just meandered way too much. Sadly, I think the authior has just run out of steam with this book and tried to bulk up the story line and thats where I think this book is best used for, a bulky door stop and only to be read as a last resort - one bright spot however and that is the auther adaquitely details how the world (and especially the main and not so main characters) fairs over several years once the main story has finished. Its nice to know how everything and everyone turns out. Yes read the book but don't embrace too high an expectation of more of what came before it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disapointing, May 14, 2012
Having read After America and enjoyed it thoroughly , I egerly embarked on Angels. Unfortunately it did not live up to expectations. Picking up where the previous novel ended the first few chapters showed much promise , but the plot gets completely bogged down in a whole lot of recaps , revisits and rehash of events well and truly covered , such as events on Greg Normans boat .. enough already we get it , and the characters , particularlly the new ones were uninteresting and generally unlike able . Further , Caitlan the murderous spook changes roles , to what would be a spoiler , needless to say her new mission is boring to say the least . Pace picks up ( fortunately ) in the last 4 to 6 chapters and events come to a nice head , but oh boy it's a slow old train getting there . Right at the end the door is left a jar for another book , but I for one won't be rushing out to get it if it ever materializes .
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Let Down Of An Ending, June 25, 2012
The first two books hooked me on the storyline and I was anxious to see how Birmingham would wrap up the triology. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. The book itself only plodded along with a few brief sparks of action with more words dedicated to political intrigue.
It seemed to me that Birmingham did not know how to end the novel and instead sort of pieced together a finish.
For those who faithfully read the first two installments I would suggest buying the book, but I would wait till the price drops or get it from your library as it is is not worth the full, hardcover price.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Requiem for a universe with such a great start, June 7, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The first book of this trilogy, Without Warning, postulated a fantastic and curiosity-filled scenario where an "event" wipes out every human in a teardrop-shaped pattern that happens to encompass nearly all of the United States and Canada. What is this phenomenon? How did it happen? Is it the result of human or alien action? And most importantly...could it happen again?

That's the first book. Sadly, the second and third books quickly (or slowly, depending on how much internal dialogue one can actually stand) devolve into a fairly standard spy vs. spy, good guys vs. bad guys suspense narrative.

And the Wave, which you would think would give people at least some pause about entering and living in an area where it "turned on" for a year and then just as suddenly "turned off"...is essentially forgotten. Oh, yeah, it happened. Now back to the creative ways to describe how people can be injured, tortured and killed.

This trilogy makes me far more sad than angry, although I'm not happy about shelling out $13 for a Kindle version of the last book in the series. There was so much about this universe that could have been explored, but Birmingham seems to have completely fallen into formula by about the second half of Book Two. The third book, with astonishingly little editing, could just as easily have been published standalone with no mention of the Wave at all.

Save your money. Enjoy Without Warning, but resist the temptation to continue in the series. There just isn't any "there" there.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Angels of Vengeance
Angels of Vengeance by John Birmingham (Hardcover - April 10, 2012)
$26.00 $22.74
Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available.
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.