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Subhuman (A Unit 51 Novel) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 400 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The "hunt" was good. The individual characters started out as distinct, but pretty soon they all meshed into a few generic characters, in other words I had to go back to the beginning to see who was who.
The monster/s was/were disgusting. Who or what they were and what they represented never became clear except for some disjointed conversation response from one of the monsters. Maybe that is a come-on for the next book. Regardless, the story was interesting, but a "little bloody" as in "oceans of blood running all over the station." The plot devolves into how to keep from dying and how much more stupid can they, the potential feed bags, be.
The hunt started out good. And then, that's it. Death and destruction and then more death and then more blood and then more death and then destruction and then, boom more death.
I have a question, when they [the survivors] were in the garage and they were "freezing to death" WHY didn't they all pile into a truck or whatever and TURN ON THE HEAT? At first I thought that there was something wrong with the trucks, maybe they didn't work, something I missed UNTIL one of the characters crawls into the truck and starts it so that she can use the radio and the author makes pains to write that "warm air came out of the vent." Or something like that. And I am thinking, WHY DID SHE GET OUT OF THE TRUCK AND GO BACK TO WHERE EVERYONE WAS FREEZING? Why didn't everyone just pile into the truck and turn on the heater every so often?
OK, will I buy and read the next book? I don't know. I buy this kind of book for the "hunt" and the "uncovering of secrets" not for monster of the week or millennia.
The characters start out interesting. And then they become, literally nothing more than blood bags. I pretty much skipped through the chases and running, because one chase is pretty much like another. It would have been better for me if the author had started a chase and then put in parenthesis "Long Chase here, lasts for about twenty minutes and then...." and then starts up with the next important item to happen.
McBride can write. He holds your attention. But, and this is the problem that most authors do not seem to understand, less is more. Hints rather than a bucket of blood dumped on my head is more interesting. Curiosity is the engine of imagination and telling too much destroys the potential of a "secret" or a plot.
This book is worth a reading. It will entertain you, will it scare you? Not so much. "Things that man is not meant to know" is the refuge of people who don't know where they are going with the plot. McBride does lay it out, he kills people wantonly, he does not make it scarier than someone jumping out from behind a door in a dark room. True horror is not what can kill you, but what you cannot escape from. That no matter what you do, no matter how you fight, you cannot win. That is true horror. Not buckets of blood, but buckets of futile fighting.
Yes, I will read the second book. Perhaps the first book is merely an intro to a bigger story. If it is, if it is not just more slaughter and blood, there is the potential for really interesting series of books. I hope so.
A new discovery is made in the inhospitable region of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. Entrepreneur Hollis Richards–along with his best friend and body guard, Will Connor–begin to assemble the best open-minds in their respective fields, to assist in their revolutionary find. Richards is a man that instantly garners your respect. Unlike your “typically portrayed” rich-man-out-for-himself, McBride gives us a sympathetic, friendly leader of this mission–along with a brief bio of his childhood to back it up.
“. . . He figured the best measure of a man was how he treated those whose station in life didn’t always command the utmost respect.”
The reader is treated to the backgrounds and specialties of Dr. Cade Evans, Dr. Jade Liang, the enigmatic Martin Roche, Kelly Nolan, and Dr. Anya Fleming–among some of the other specialists on site. The characterization here leaves nothing out. I honestly found myself able to distinguish between, identify and/or sympathize with, each member brought on board. With few exceptions that make the situation seem even more realistic, this recently assembled group becomes "family" in a sense, each reaching out for a common goal, ready to discover something completely “new” to the scientific community.
“. . . there was nothing fictional about this . . . "
We are taken through many exploratory “guesses” as to exactly what the scientists are going to unveil, but the reality is that we have as much insight into this mystery as they have, themselves. This is perhaps the aspect that I enjoyed most in SUBHUMAN–while each scientist had an idea and a “hope” on what they will ultimately uncover, nobody was “certain” of anything. In this regard, we are discovering alongside them.
“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” (Carl Sagan).
The frigid temperature and overall remoteness of Antarctica provide the perfect and essential background to harbor a new discovery of such magnitude. This difficult–almost hostile–location is described with such vivid detail that the reader can feel the cold winds blowing, and actually believe that if a new scientific discovery was to have remained undisturbed for so long, THIS was the place it would be.
The atmosphere alone may have been enough for some authors to go on, but McBride takes that extra step with his detailed descriptions. In this approach, he allows for the reader to “discover” the mysteries beneath the surface as the main characters do. In SUBHUMAN, we have a novel that makes us a “part” of it–one that I found impossible to leave until the very end.
From a “safe” scientific venture, the action begins to morph into something much more sinister by planting subtle suggestions and clues along the way. Even knowing ahead of time that things are not quite what the scientists are expecting, this book still had the power to shock me with the new revelations as they came about. When a reader is so immersed in a novel for that to happen, you know you are reading something truly spectacular.
“. . . That’s not a hallmark of superior intelligence; that’s a predatory instinct.”
SUBHUMAN is an easy contender for my number one read of the year. I sincerely hope to be seeing more from this author in the future.
I won't go into a detailed synopsis of the plot, because I'm sure there are any number of reviews that will do it better than I could. Like many of his books, this one will appeal to science nerds, as well as people fascinated by ancient cultures. It assembles a reasonably large set of characters with diverse backgrounds and distinct personalities, none of which are cookie-cutter stereotypes, and all of which bring something to the table. The way they all work together (and often clash, as you would expect from very bright people with strong personalities) feels very natural. The pacing is good, and as it went down the home stretch, it got VERY difficult to put down (fair warning :-). The choice to round-robin the chapters from the different characters' perspectives was necessary at first when the team was initially scattered across the globe, but I felt like it still worked really well once they all came together, to keep the action hopping around, and help you identify more with the individual characters and their roles in the group.
I can't wait to read more of Unit 51's adventures. I can't recommend this one highly enough, and I'm confident it's the start of big things for Michael McBride!