Book review: Sabotaged


Alaskan Courage #5

The premise of a thriller against the backdrop of the Iditarod sled race is an exciting one.  The novel (Sabotaged, 2015) starts strong.  Kirra’s cousin Meg is abducted.  Kira’s uncle Frank, a musher in the race, is coerced by criminals into doing a mysterious job for them before they will release Meg.  Frank is able to tell Kirra and her burgeoning love interest, Reef, what happened to Meg.  He wants them to rescue Meg without involving the police.

At first, Kirra and Reef appear to have a testy relationship.  The development of the romance between them is fairly predictable, and once it has developed, it unfortunately becomes a bit saccharine.  More conflicts or disagreements between the two as they investigate Meg’s abduction may have helped.  Though Kirra is nervous about Reef’s trustworthiness early on, he is generally depicted as strong, caring, tenacious, and faithful.  Kirra is scarred and impulsive, but he appears to have no faults, and I think because of that I became bored by their romance.

I was prepared to accept the exclusion of the police, but it did bother me after a while.  Kirra and Reef virtually become the police, seeking out leads and questioning them like characters are questioned in police procedurals.  The detective-style was an interesting but unexpected approach, and to me it almost became more technical than thrilling.

That being said, Dani Pettrey is a gifted writer who has a way with words.  The characters are grounded in Christian beliefs which is refreshing compared to other novels these days.  The Alaskan Courage series also has great covers, conjuring up a spirit of beautiful outdoor adventure.

I read this book partly because it’s on a Goodreads list called “Fiction: Police, Military & Service Dogs.”  It isn’t the fault of Pettrey that the book has been branded by readers this way, but unfortunately the listing (and cover and dust jacket involving the Iditarod) set up an unrealistic expectation for me.  I thought the Iditarod and the sled dogs would feature much more prominently in the plot.  Growing up in the South and being accustomed to labs and hounds, the idea of huskies and sled dogs always seemed very exotic and compelling to me.  I got my hopes up that I would learn something about the dogs of the Iditarod in this novel.  There was some information about the race itself, most of the action took place outside the Iditarod trail, and nothing about the dogs.

Oh well.  It was still an enjoyable romantic suspense novel if that type of book appeals to you.

Book review: Pacific Rim adds to the film


Pacific Rim novelization audiobook

The monster-versus-robot action movie “Pacific Rim” (2013) was subsequently novelized by Andrew Irvine.  Before reviewing the book version, a recap of the film may help.

I saw the movie “Pacific Rim” after it was released for home video.  For the life of me, two or three years later, I can’t remember a single scene.  It’s not that I remember it being bad.  It’s that I don’t remember it at all.

I have a theory on why the movie left no lasting impact on me.  Unlike “King Kong” and “Godzilla,” there wasn’t a single kaiju (monster) in “Pacific Rim” to focus on.  There were a half a dozen.  None stood out.  I think “Pacific Rim” tried to compensate for this by turning Gipsy Danger, the main robot, into a central “character.”  That may have worked visually in the movie, but in the novelization, Gipsy Danger is difficult to picture.  There are minimal if any descriptions of the robot’s appearance (color, size, shape, etc).  If Gipsy Danger was intended to be a character, she was a sadly flat one in the book.

Secondly, the human characters in the movie were cookie cutter.  On that score, the novelization made much more of an impact.  The backgrounds of the characters are laid out carefully and are well-explored.  There was more nuance to the Stacker Pentecost character (the officer in charge of war robot operations) in the book than I recall in the movie.  The relationship between robot ranger Raleigh Beckett and the female lead, Mako Mori, was engaging.  The B-story of Dr. Newt Geiszler’s attempt to mind-meld with a kaiju were a bit silly, even off-putting, but good for a chuckle.

The book was also more effective than the movie in establishing the reason why robots were the most effective means of fighting the kaiju (as opposed to conventional or nuclear tactics).  A book format gave the author more latitude to describe the context and historical background of the international defense against the monsters.  The premise is still cheesy and contrived, but for some reason it was easier to swallow in the book.

The author used very vivid language and sharp comparisons to convey complex science fiction type material succinctly.  Fight scenes, which can be easier to choreograph than to write, were handled well.  On the basis of the colorful writing, I would definitely read another Alex Irvine book.

I listened to the novelization in audio format.  Narrator Christian Rummel did impressive, captivating work as the narrator.

Pacific Rim is fun.  If the movie didn’t float your boat, you might enjoy the book a little more.