This one was a corker…

Sub Zero
by Matt James

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

Oh my goodness, the writing is ridiculously bad. 

Bad grammar, odd changes in tense, endless waffling without relevance to the action taking place, logical errors in the plotting, unrealistic characters, repetition… Where was the editor? Or a beta reader? 

I am willing to overlook a lot in my popcorn creature features, but I can‘t read this, sorry! DNF at 21%. Yikes.


P.S.: I would be happy for recommendations of some entertaining light horror, set underwater. I have an obsession with caves, diving, etc….

It‘s the bioapocalypse…

Behemoth (Rifters, #3)
by Peter Watts

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Prelude: ´lawbreaker

We meet Achilles Desjardins again. And…

“The past receded; the unforgiven present advanced. The world fell apart in time-lapse increments: an apocalyptic microbe rose from the deep sea, hitching a ride in the brackish flesh of some deep-sea diver from N’AmPac. Floundering in its wake, the Powers That Weren’t dubbed it ßehemoth, burned people and property in their frantic, futile attempts to stave off the coming change of regime. North America fell.“

ß-Max

We are at the bottom of the Atlantic. Hiding away, in conjunction with our former enemy.

Very readable, mostly. There are sequences where I don‘t understand a thing… Lenie is a bystander a lot of the time, shunned not only by the other side, but also by her own people. We as readers often do not take part in the action, but look at what‘s happening from the outside, from her POV. I am not a fan of that way of story telling. But it‘s what it is, when reading from limited POVs, I guess.

I am not certain that I really understood what went on in this book. Yes, hiding away, conflict with the opposing inmates, revolution, mutation, a new infestation… Got that. Much head scratching. I also missed a stronger sense of being underwater. It almost did not feel as if they were spending time in the deep sea.

Seppuku

Emerging from the sea… This one more linear and with more traditional story telling at first. I really liked the new character, Taka.

Trigger warning: <spoiler>Torture, mutilation, rape</spoiler>

I could have done without that part. It added nothing to the plot and made me uncomfortable. Was it just for the shock effect? Because as a plot point it was pretty pointless or at the most served as a tool for a info dump. It actually turned me off so much, that I lost my motivation to keep going. 

Consequently I really struggled with the last 100 pages. I literally lost the plot. I couldn‘t grasp what was going on or why Ken and Lenie did what they were doing.

The big reveal at the end left me rather cold, I was glad to be finished and disappointed with the resolution of this trilogy. Did the final conflict really have to happen in the off? Clarke as a mere bystander did not make me happy either. She devolved into the chick on the side. She really did not gell for me in Seppuku. I understand that characters can change and develop, but I could not relate to Lenie’s progression. 

I really liked the first book, it had a good plot and setting and a strong, convincing main character in Lenie Clarke. Maelstrom and Behemoth (ß-Max & Seppuku) were confusing over long stretches and hard to understand. I admit to skimming quite a bit of the techno babble. I think stopping after the first book would have been best.

How to rate this? Considering that I struggled to finish, had problems to follow the plot, disliked the character inconsistency of Lenie Clake and the gratuitous violence/torture, I can‘t really give this more than two stars.


In my headspace Noomi Rapace took over the role of Lenie Clarke.

A free version of this book(s) can be found here.

Playlist:

  • Georg Friedrich Händel, Water Music
  • Tchaikovsky, Iolanta
  • Sergei Prokofiev
  • Igor Strawinsky

Are you afraid of the dark?

The Cavern by Alister Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No messing around in this book. Slow build-up? Pffft! It‘s B-Movie Horror Flick Night! Body count of the epilogue: 2:0 for the monster. And it keeps going. It‘s bloody, there is gore, there is a lot of action, suspense, oh-shit-moments and it‘s a lot of fun. It is well written to boot and the characters actually have personalities.

It‘s a little predictable, but that‘s to be expected with a creature feature fest like this.

If you are in the mood for uncomplicated monster fun with plenty of blood splatter—this is a pretty damn good choice! Oh yes, and I multiplied my knowledge of Aussie slang by a lot!

PS: very, very creepy! Caves! Cave diving! Darkness! Weird noises! Eep! It‘s vicious!

Recommended! 4.5 stars. Thank you, Dennis, for pointing me towards this particular cave system!

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Anemone?

Maelstrom (Rifters, #2)Maelstrom by Peter Watts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The sequel to the first Rifters novel, Starfish. Difficult. Lenie Clarke comes to shore and with her the apocalypse, of a sort (two sorts, actually).

The first half of the book was confusing. Multiple viewpoints with different agendas, some of them of the artificial kind. I was pretty lost. Cyberpunk meets the apocalypse meets a revenge story and…. it was a mess. I skimmed some of the more indecipherable parts. I contemplated to DNF, but my curiosity kept me going. It was a case of „what the hell did I just read“, but it had its moments.

A plot finally coalesced about two-thirds into the book and it was pretty slim. This book is more about the noise than about the red thread. The ending was satisfying enough. I might even pick up the third book at some point.

★★¾☆☆

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Shark week! Sharks won!

MEG: Primal Waters (Megalodon #3)MEG: Primal Waters by Steve Alten
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Monster pulp fiction had a love child with a National Geographic documentary. Shark Week! It‘s like a really horrible train wreck—I haven‘t been able to look away for the third book in a row now.

Immature characters. Stupid, stupid people. Not passing the Bechdel test. If you are sensitive to that, don‘t touch this book. Oh, and add some fat shaming as well.

Anyway… If you can get past that without ripping the book into teeny, weeny pieces in frustration and exasperation, it‘s pretty fun to read about the ways stupid humans can get eaten by sharks. If I counted right, Megalodon won 17 to nil.

The only character that feels a little like a real person is Jonas Taylor. It probably helps that every time he shows up on page, my hind brain goes „Jason Staham! Yay!“

Prologue and first chapter are mostly recap of the previous two books, with minimal set-up, plus some repetitive and not very exciting info dumps. In the beginning less telling, more showing would have been good. The Daredevil sequences are not all bad. Then there is a good scene in between with David and Mac stuck in the lagoon on a sinking ship. As the action ramps up towards the end of the book, it is indeed fun to read this.

Still, lots of issues with the characters. I can‘t in good conscience give this more than 2 stars… well, maybe ★★½…

Will I read the fourth book? Goodness, it‘s a possibility. But not for a good, long while… There have to be shark/underwater horror books that are written better than this? I am open for suggestions!

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Whale of a time

Cachalot (Humanx Commonwealth)

Cachalot by Alan Dean Foster

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a teenager I read a ton of Alan Dean Foster. Almost all of the Humanx books and then some. Pip and Flinx stayed in my memory, the Icerigger books, a book that I can‘t remember the title of and can‘t find and this… I have an obsession with books set underwater anyway. So, a few decades later I decided to read some of them again, to see if I still like them.

Well, I just finished this. I realized two things—I remembered almost nothing of this book and what I thought I remembered didn‘t happen. So either I made it up or I was thinking of (yet) another book. Sigh.

So, how was it? Well, the language felt a little dated. But the book is almost 40 years old, so that is ok. The daughter was hugely annoying, her musical instrument was pretty interesting, sadly not really explored and pretty obviously a tool. The outcome felt morally pretty suspect and… oh well, it was ok.



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Under the surface

Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A tale of three generations of an African-American family, segregation and racism, Tarzan movies, swimming, glimpses of an underwater world and maybe the Creature of the Black Lagoon.

Difficult to rate, as it wasn‘t what I expected. More historical than speculative fiction.

A HUGO and Nebula Award Nominee, winner of an World Fantasy Award for Best Novella. “Ranging from the late 1930s to the present day, “Wakulla Springs” is a tour de force of the human, the strange, and the miraculous.“

I expected a Fantasy story, maybe some creative and unusual underwater monsters. There was very little of the strange, and the miraculous.“ Mostly it was of the human condition and how people are treated unfairly because of the colour of their skin. And Hollywood.

I did some entertaining research on Wakulla Springs, the lodge, Tarzan movies and Johnny Weissmueller in the process. The story did provide me with some great imagery, above and below the water surface. Very poetic ending. I want to get a flat-bottomed boat now and do some paddling and swimming.

If Wakulla Springs interests you, have a look here: http://www.floridasprings.org/expedit…

Thanks to Tor for providing this for free.

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