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Paragon (Vertex) (Volume 3) Paperback – July 16, 2017
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And the truth is, I started really enjoying it about midway, despite my purely personal objections. What I like is Summers’ narrative drive. He moves the story forward. No rambling. He also has created a sci-fi series that has a gay man at the center (Jarod), and then gay couples (Gabriel, Daniel, Tyler); without turning it into a romance. The love Jarod feels for Gabriel (and, ultimately for his other friends, including Esther and Magpie) is a driving force in his motivation; but it is not the raison d’etre for the story. Vertex is the reason this series exists, and the wonderful, malevolent creepiness of Vertex is what binds the books in this series together.
Soren Summers’ Vertex series is a refreshing change from the standard formulae of contemporary gay literature. This is a writer to watch. Even if he loves zombies.
I feel somewhat impotent in my ability to be able to get meaty in my review of Paragon because the book is extremely hard to not spoiler. I can say that it's great reading - I read it from beginning to end in one day because I could not put it down.
Paragon starts up not too far along from the finish of Parasite. The returned flare has everyone upbeat around the Hive. Who is out there? They're now not the only ones. Could rescue be nigh? The zombies are still about, Gabriel is getting over the whole Hortega incident, and while the undead are at the core of Pleasance not being so, well, pleasant, the zombies further removed from patient zero are not the main focus. Really, this book is so much more than zombies even though it's about the plague that created them in the first place, Paragon.
The intensity of Paragon builds and builds throughout, I was literally hanging onto the arm of the lounge as I inhaled every word. There are some Kindle-throwing moments, a bit of romance and quite a bit of supernatural, horror-ish, sci-fi/fantasy things goings on.
Jarod and Gabriel are still their quirky selves. The four other characters that came to the fore during Parasite - Esther, Torres, Daniel and Magpie - are all interesting, although Magpie and Daniel don't dominate much page time. However, that is well and truly covered by other jaw-dropping people and the MCs.
As I've found seems to be the case with this author, the big things are in the little details- I can't elaborate further on that. There are some surprises that had me swearing in an un-lady-like fashion, like some cameos and important moments by people... and buildings. Yep, buildings make perfect sense if you read this series, and Jonathan Hargrove is more malevolent than ever. How is that even possible? I don't know what to say about that scene with the finger and then later... gah! Again, I just can't spoiler the book. The book doesn't end on a cliff-hanger, per se, but the author is very good at sowing and watering the seeds of doubt.
Dear author, I'm coming for you because you are very sneaky. Truly, the devil is in the details, and I see what you did there...
You do need to start at Vertex #1, Monster, because the series are not standalone books. If you want to maybe check out the world that this series is set in you could try Smolder because, while it's set in this universe and has somewhat of a connection, I believe it can be read and enjoyed on its own..
I review in depth at on top down under book reviews.
I anxiously awaited Paragon from the moment I put down the previous book in the series. I knew it was coming out this week, but was pleasantly surprised when my Kindle started downloading it at 9:01pm Sunday night. It was at that point that I knew I would get little sleep until I finished it.
Paragon opens with the same dystopian future of Pleasance, with the few remaining survivors still living in the abandoned mall, the threat of zombie attack coming with every wail, every scratch against the wall. With as disturbing as what went on in prequels Monster and Parasite, you would think that Summers wouldn't have anything else in him to take us readers through the wringer. But oh yes, Summers does - and with a vengeance.
Summer's writing with the survivors in the Hive does something to you that brings in the walls; it's almost claustrophobic. So when the characters get outside of the walls of the Hive to go do some investigation, you can almost feel them as they sneak around every corner, and you can almost see what's hiding in the shadows.
Though I'm not a fan of zombies at all, I'm a serious fan of Summer's Vertex trilogy, even if I had a few "Joey" moments while reading. For those of you that don't get the reference, it refers to Joey from Friends, who had to put the book he was reading in the freezer because it upset him so much. Except with me, my Joey moments came from Summers keeping me on edge, and then ratcheting the tension up even further. I made myself get up, walk around for a few minutes, then went back to reading. And as I do 95% of my reading at bedtime, Summers has made sure that I've missed my regular bedtime for the last couple of days.
The characters that Summers created in the series are so real that it's like reading about a close friend. And the situations they get into, even with zombies, have real world life issues; one particular passage when Jarod is in peril, he does something that is so human, so perfect, that I'd hope I would do in that moment. Summers creates a set of characters that you look up to; that you wish would have your back in a time of crisis.
Even wrapping up all of the details with a nice little bow, Summers still has to get in a zinger at the books close. I won't give it away, but I will say this - hold your breath until you see those three little letters on the page - END.