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November 14, 2008 |

By Dustin Rowles | Books | November 14, 2008 |

This was the stupidest book I’ve ever read, and I loved every fucking minute of it. It’s stupid in the way The Transporter is stupid, or most action films. If you sat down and worked through the logistics of the actual events unfolding before you, your fucking brain would implode. If you gave one deep thought for even a moment, your left eye would twitch, and blood would gush from your teeth and nose. It’s so brazenly ridiculous and bad for you, you just devour it wholesale without even once worrying about it. This is not a book meant to be taken seriously, and if it is, I want Matt Reilly sunk to the bottom of the ocean in the deepest trench, in a safe filled with crawfish.

A crack team (they’re always a fucking crack team — just once I’d like to see a fucking idiot platoon try to save the day, but I guess that’s for Tom Arnold to crew) of Marines are called out to an Antarctic research station on a distress call. Here’s something to understand about Antarctica. It’s basically the wild west. There is no governing body, so all the countries of the world have essentially staked out a claim and built a base to do all sorts of insane testing. Nuclear, biohazardous, prehistoric research, zombie penguins, whatever. But it’s really fucking cold.

OK, so these Marines get to the base, because … the people supposedly found a spaceship frozen in a hidden cavern 3000 feet below the base. So the Marines get there, and then all manner of crazy shit happens. No, crazier than what you are possibly thinking. The Marines get attacked by: French paramilitary, British SAS, and ICG, which is apparently a military organization supersecretly run by the American government to ensure that Americans will be the forefront of technology, even if it means that they are killing their own men. So we’ve got MOLES!

But, let’s not stop there! We’ve also got killer whale packs that tear people to pieces. And also! Giant fucking radioactive elephant seals. Also, there are grappling hook guns, and liquid nitrogen canisters, and hovercraft chases! And I think I killed a guy with a trident!

It’s so brazenly over the top and just jam packed with action, it feels like a spin-off of National Treasure or something you’d see on TNT starring Noah Wiley or, I don’t know, Christopher Lambert in a jaunty seacap.

What makes it so retardiriffic is two fold. One, it’s just jampacked with military jargon. It’s overly jargony. It’s resplendent with jargon. This is like those kids in high school, who’s fathers used to get those magazines like Soldier of Fortune, who would talk about getting into gunfights and name the specific make and model and caliber of the rifles and why they preferred them to the others. And you’re all like, “Armalite this! I’m a mothafuckin’ ninja turtle!” And then one day he comes to school in a black trenchcoat. I don’t remember what happens after that.

Second, and this has been happening so much in the novels lately, it’s just incredi-cheese with the fucking narrative. He loves to end a paragraph with an elipsis …

… and then get over dramatic with italics and an exclamation point!

And it’s almost always some sort of well, no shit that’s going to happen moment. Randy Steele dangled precariously over the edge of a five story drop to the frosty dive pool …

… and then he fell in the water!

Reilly constantly has chapters that end at some highly dramatic moment and one of his characters will see something insane or cliffhangy and shout, “Oh shit!” or “Oh damn” or “Oh JESUS!” It’s a little like attending a Baptist church or a movie in the inner city.

But it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the brazen stupid glory of the novel. The body counts are epically high, and the finishing moves are fucking spectacular. And nobody’s safe. They killed someone with a jumping whale biting them in half. Come on! You know you want to see that shit in technicolor! Fuck this PG-13 shit! Give me a guy getting his face melted off! Or shot through the chest with a Desert Eagle.


This was recommended to me as a lark by TK. I will thank him with a beer. But not some fancy microbrew. It’s gotta be a big stupid beer.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. Details are here and the growing number of participants and their blogs are here.

Cannonball Read / Brian Prisco

Books | November 14, 2008 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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