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An interesting tale of scientific horror
on November 29, 2012
Dark Rising is the sequel to the novel Beneath the Dark Ice. However, while it does contain some references to events from the previous novel, this one is quite a separate story so readers need not worry if they've never read its predecessor.
In Dark Rising, a scientific experiment in Iran has terrifying consequences. The whole lab is destroyed. One of the scientists' bodies mysteriously turns up all the way over in America, horribly distorted and emitting massive quantities of lethal radiation. The body of another of the scientists is found a lot closer to home, but bears the signs of months of decomposition (despite having been missing hardly more than a day).
Detecting a massive gamma ray spike from Iran, like nothing ever seen on Earth, the US fears the possible creation of a weapon of mass destruction and sends a team of military elites to the Middle East to investigate. Leading the team is super soldier Alex Hunter, main protagonist of the first novel. Hunter's superhuman abilities are growing and he does not know what these changes in his body will lead to. He is also haunted by nightmares relating to his frightening experiences beneath the Antarctic ice in the first novel.
The American soldiers team up with a pair of Israelis, who are also sent to find out what's going on in Iran.
Meanwhile, the religiously fanatical Iranian president orders the recreation of the phenomena produced in the first scientific experiment, in the belief that this will bring about apocalyptic events prophecised in the Qu'ran.
More horror ensues from the experiment, including one unnoticed side effect- the bringing of a monstrous otherworldly creature to Earth. In the deserts of Iran, the creature gets a taste for humans.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read, though there are some points of criticism. As in Beneath the Dark Ice, the character of Alex Hunter seems like a bit too much of a Mary Sue. This is especially seen in one scene where he is bitten by a highly venomous saw-scaled viper, and manages to sleep it off! The other characters could have been a bit better written as well.
What really makes the story intriguing is the monster. While certain other aspects of his writing could use some improvement, Greig Beck is excellent at making monsters. The monster in this story is well described and it is extremely powerful and deadly (which is good as it gives the superhuman Alex Hunter something that's actually challenging to fight and truly life threatening to him). It's not as massively huge and strong as the monster from Beneath the Dark Ice, but it has other features that make it at least as deadly and terrifying.
Of course, there's other parts of the novels I've liked as well, but the monsters are probably the main thing that keeps me wanting to read more.