Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Project Nemesis (Kaiju #1)

Did you see the newest Godzilla?  I loved it.  It had explosions.  Monsters.  Fighter jets.  HALO jumps.  I mean, what more could a girl ask for in a movie?

In case you haven't guessed, I don't go in for romantic comedies.

To be honest, I don't think I've seen any of the original Godzilla movies all the way through.  I've seen bits and pieces--whichever ones had the tiny magical fairy twins really freaked me out--but I don't know a lot of the Godzilla mythos.  It's definitely a reaction to the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and the ensuing Cold War escalation of "I have more bombs than you do, neener neener neener."  Godzilla has atomic breath, for example, and a lot of his enemies are either altered by humans or aliens.

But wait--you're not here for a film review of the new Godzilla.  Quick review: Go see it.  Bryan Cranston.  Atomic breath.  Win.

I just made a pledge with myself (literally a second ago) that I would stop using serendipity and any variants thereof for a period.  This is difficult, because it's a fun word.  A good word.  And a useful one, as it applies to my discovery of many books.

Project Nemesis was not a ... er .... lucky find.  It's by Jeremy Robinson, who writes the Chess Team novels.  I really like those for some popcorn-movie-style military/paranormal thriller times.  The only quibble I have is that sometimes the writing can be a bit uneven.  Another book by Robinson that I would highly recommend is SecondWorld.  If you like alternate history or conspiracy theories, you'll love this.  Project Nemesis is the first book in Robinson's Kaiju series ("kaiju" being the term for the monsters in those Godzilla movies).  Nemesis delivered on all points: it was fun, it was engaging, it was thrilling, it had devious villains, it had guns ... I mean, this was awesome.  I'm not saying it's going to win the Man Booker (heaven forbid--I've attempted two Man Bookers so far and they've not gelled well with me, to be exceedingly polite about it), but it's a heck of a lot of fun.  It's also actually very well-written.  I only noticed one strange typo/word misuse, but I can't even remember what it was, specifically.

The main selling point of Nemesis is, of course, the monster.  In the classic "don't meddle with nature" scenario, a laboratory creates a hybrid human using strange DNA.  The point is to accelerate growth so that organs can be grown quickly using the donor's own DNA, thus preventing rejection.  Good intentions ... but we all know where those lead.  Long story short, no one could have predicted what this hybrid would become: a massive (I mean it--MASSIVE), armor-plated, spiked-tailed, tusk-toothed, highly intelligent monster with blood that EXPLODES upon contact with the air.  Oh, and did I mention that the Nemesis moniker comes from Greek mythology and the goddess of vengeance?  The monster, Maigo (which is her DNA donor's name), exhibits every sign of being an avenger from another planet or another realm.  You choose.  She can sense your guilt.  No hiding from Maigo.  Also, one other tidbit?  She feeds exclusively on humans.

Attempting to stop Maigo's rampage down the East Coast is an agent from DHS-P.  Department of Homeland Security-Paranormal.  That's riiiight.  X-Files time, baby (Robinson wisely pays homage to his paranormal forebears in several scenes).  Special Agent Jon Hudson goes up to rural Maine to investigate a Sasquatch reporting.  On his very first night, he gets in a fight with a bear, gets drunk, and runs around the woods in his underpants.

Wait!  Don't run away yet!  Robinson wisely injects a lot of self-deprecating humor into Hudson's narration (which is first-person and present tense, which is risky, but here it works!).  Hudson meets up with the local sheriff, who is almost comically sexy (this, too, is acknowledged by both Hudson and the author as being par for the course for these types of stories.  I like that sort of meta commentary).  Ashley is a lean, mean, redheaded fighting machine who drives a blue sports car.  I liked her!  She kicked major butt.

The action is just nonstop and and the plot fits together nicely.  I'm happy that this is a series, because that was a ridiculously fun book to read.  Robinson nailed just the right mix of humor and thrills.  It's not as imaginative as SecondWorld, but it's probably my second-favorite of his books.

Restrain me from going off to Amazon and buying up a bunch of his ebooks.

You're not trying very hard.


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