Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: Project Nemesis (A Kaiju Thriller) by Jeremy Robinson

Click Cover to See the Book on Amazon

Funnily enough, I had downloaded this book because of a free book promotion email some weeks - maybe even months - before seeing Pacific Rim. I thought hey, a novel about huge monsters, and it's free? Cool, I'll grab it. Then it sat in my Kindle for an indeterminate amount of time, before I decided to read it on my new Kindle Paperwhite (which, by the way, is a very nice ebook reader).

The plot, in brief: A secret program to use DNA recovered from a long-dead Kaiju (giant monster) corpse found in Alaska results in creating a human/Kaiju hybrid that goes on a crazed rampage, growing at an unbelievable rate until it's skyscraper-tall within a few days. Pitted against this monster are the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security's Paranormal office, a hush-hush team of three agents who're ostensibly tasked with checking out X-Files-like threats to national security. Of course, they've never conclusively found anything...until now.

I've never been obsessed with giant monster movies. I've seen the original Godzilla and many of its "versus" sequels, and although they're entertaining, I can't say I'm a "fan" of the genre. I suppose my lukewarm attitude comes from the stories all generally feeling the same; giant monster shows up (right at a huge population center, of course), wrecks a bunch of stuff on an epic scale, and is eventually driven off (almost never really killed). There's also a certain suspension of disbelief I find difficult to achieve in terms of the humans never seeming to be able to kill the Kaijus in these movies. I know it's no more or less ridiculous than Mack Bolan surviving through hundreds of novels' worth of gunfights, but I guess we all have areas we're less forgiving with than others.

Overall, however, Project Nemesis is a pretty solid book. The Kaiju has a strong motivation for doing what it does, and the characters are all engaging enough that I found them easy to read and no one was particularly disagreeable. The notion of a DHS department that was created to fight paranormal threats, and is considered an embarrassing joke by the other DHS offices right up to the point where the 300-foot tall monster is leveling a big chunk of New England, made me laugh. There's actually a couple of direct X-Files references, and the association is very fitting.

One aspect of the novel that I found particularly entertaining is that the Kaiju is born in a secret research facility in Maine. It then stomps and eats its way to - and through - the coastal city of Portland before diving into the Atlantic and swimming to Boston, where it proceeds to flatten Beverly up on the North Shore, before leveling a good chunk of Boston. I saw that author Jeremy Robinson hails from New Hampshire, so he's got sufficient familiarity with New England to get a lot of the flavor and feel of Maine spot-on. His depiction of Boston was a little odd to me though - despite the creature being 300-plus feet tall by the end of the novel, it finds itself unable to get through "all the skyscrapers blocking it from downtown Boston" or somesuch. While there are a few tall buildings relatively close to the waterfront, that area of the city is not particularly big, and so there are some scale issues involved at the end of the book. I suspect Robinson didn't want the Kaiju to just stomp stomp stomp to where it needed to go in a paragraph or two, so he needed to slow the beast down a little. Regardless, it is a minor quibble, and one only someone who'd take the time to examine the creature's route and compare it to the city itself would notice (raises hand guiltily).

So, if you like Kaiju movies, and particularly if Pacific Rim tickled your fancy for more stories involving giant monsters smashing the hell out of cities while people scurried around underfoot, Project Nemesis is worth picking up, especially at the low ebook price of $3.99.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've generally not been a fan of giant monster movies/books myself. I did write a short story about one once, called Crypto. A Genetically modified monster gets free in Washington D.C.