This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

05 February, 2013

REVIEW: THE JUNGLE

Cover illustration by Larry Rostant

THE JUNGLE
OREGON FILES BOOK 8
BY
CLIVE CUSSLER
WITH
JACK DU BRUL

ISBN: 978-0-241-95989-3
Pages: 469
Publisher: Penguin
First published: 3 March 2011
This edition published: 1 March 2012

On the cover:

Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon are up against their smartest foe yet - but in their midst there is a traitor . . .

After losing their contract with the US government because of a daring raid too far, Cabrillo and his crew of mercenaries with a conscience are earning money the hard way: doing dirty, dangerous little jobs in the world's trouble spots. Now they've accepted a mission deep to find a missing adventurer deep in the jungles of Myanmar.

But it is not long before Cabrillo and his team realise that they have been set up.

Cabrillo - betrayed, tortured and played for a fool - is angry that he's been used as a pawn in someone's deadly scheme. But with the US nuclear launch codes up for grabs and a madman bent on using them to hold millions of lives to ransom, he hasn't time to worry about revenge.

He's got to save the world first . . .

   This is an Action Adventure book, and as such it follows certain rules of that genre. Among those are that what happens isn't necessarily going to be very realistic, and there is a certain amount of "coincidences" that are necessary to make the events in the book happen. In short, Action Adventure is a genre that isn't very realistic, but has much in common with Hollywood Action Thrillers. If you have seen a James Bond, Indiana Jones, or Die Hard movie, you will be aware of what level an Action Adventure novel is aiming for.

   Cussler's novels are characterised by there (almost) always being a certain archaeological element present. (Often a mythical treasure.) So is also the case here, but it isn't as central is it is in some of Cussler's books. Something that is a bit of a disappointment if you are as interested in archaeology and history as I am. Especially since the opening hints at a very interesting historical connection that would have been great to see explored further.
   But the historical artifact is connected to an element that is pretty much straight out of Science Fiction. The way the historical artifact is connected to the Science Fiction element is nicely done, and came as a surprising revelation. It wasn't at all what I expected from Cussler.
   However the Science Fiction element is also presented in a way that has been seen several times before, especially in the very end of the book, making the nice twist to the story loose much of its impact. At least for me.

   The action scenes are the strength of this book. They are well written, and give a sense of peril and suspense. But there is a feeling at times that some of the action would have worked better on the screen than on the page. The writing is very filmatic, and that doesn't always work as well in the text. 
   The slower scenes are not nearly as satisfying. There's is too much description of unnecessary details, and there's too much infodumping. On top of that the story does rely too much on coincidences and sudden "eureka-moments", even for an Action Adventure novel. I feel this could have been better if it was toned down a bit. As it stands, the level of suspension of disbelief is a bit too high.
   Even though I can usually be pretty forgiving when it comes to the level of realism in this genre of novels, there was a bit too much here that was over the top without having to be.
   I must also mention that there were a few chapters that I felt was unnecessary to the story. And they did actually hurt the level of suspense by revealing things a bit earlier than necessary.

   From what I've written so far this looks like a  novel to avoid, but that isn't really the full story. I have mentioned all the problems I had with the novel, but there's still quite a lot I like about it.
   There is actually a good story in this novel, if you look past its flaws. As mentioned before there is good action sequences, and there's some nice twists to the plot. It's fast paced Action Adventure that is good entertainment for some hours. And compared to other works in it's genre, I'd say that this isn't really suffering in comparison. Unfortunately it does suffer when you compare it to Cussler at his best, this is far from the best novel to bear his name.

   All in all it's a good novel for fans of Action Adventure who know what to expect from the genre, and are looking for a fast paced novel to entertain them for a few nights.
    If you are a fan of Clive Cussler, and the Oregon Files in particular, this is a novel that you should read. As a Cussler fan myself, I do hesitate to recommend it to newcomers to his book though. There are plenty of better novels from his hand if you want to explore his particular rand of novels.
   -So, not really a bad novel, but failed to live up to both its potential and what you would expect from Cussler.

Links:  Clive Cussler  Penguin

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