Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Book review: Spiral by Andy Remic

I’ve been trying to read as much as possible lately- time permitting- and I’m not doing a very good job of it. I’ve got a little stack of paperbacks on my desk awaiting my attention (mostly fiction but there’s also a Stephen Ambrose book in there I’m really looking forward to) and it’s hard making progress. One book I’ve been slogging through is Spiral by Andy Remic. I bought it because it was billed as a graphically violent thriller about a super-secret organisation which was the world’s last hope against terrorists, etc. It’s set in the near future and that was my first problem with the book. While I’d been expecting something more along the lines of Ton Clancy’s Rainbow Six, I instead was plunged into a world decimated by an engineered plague and ripped apart by terrorism. Now, that’s not the fault of the book, more one of expectation, but it did throw me for a bit. My second problem with is that the action is simply not that convincingly done. For one the author equips this world with antiquated weapons- Sterling SMGs, even an MP40- which just doesn’t sit right with me. If it’s set in the near future, why the hell are they using weapons that aren’t exactly commonplace right now? Maybe that’s a pedantic gripe but I expect a whole heap of realism in my techno-thrillers these days. Not so long ago I read a few of Chris Ryan’s books (and I’m a fan of Andy McNabb’s books too- of the pair he’s the better writer) and after them, this just comes off as amateurish. And there’s my third problem, the writing style felt clunky to me, not at all polished. It’s rare that I don’t finish a book I’ve started but after wading halfway through this I just couldn’t take it any more. It was an effort to read and while the idea for the plot was pretty good, the execution just wasn’t up to it.

All in all not a book that I’d recommend, but if he writes another I’d be prepared to check it out to see if his technical knowledge and style have improved any. For now though, steer clear.

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