I must admit to feeling rather conflicted about this book. Author Zeke Mitchell clearly loves the "Men's Adventure" genre of fiction made so popular in the '60s through the '80s, as well as '80s action movies such as COBRA or INVASION U.S.A., and every ounce of that love was poured into writing this book. There are a bunch of direct and indirect references, both in tone and otherwise, that show the intent of making Kill Zone a child of its inspiration.
On the other hand, I think this diamond is still
just a little too rough. While the author is able to craft a solid
action sequence, and the overall plot of the book flows well enough as a
series of action set pieces, I think the story definitely needed some
more constructive criticism. I'll give a rundown in no particular order
- The term "kill zone" appears in the body of the
book thirty-eight times. While using the title of one's work in the body
of said work is fine in a rock ballad, in a novel it is generally
frowned upon, and while once or twice is fine (that, "Okay, I get it"
moment), several dozen instances are way too many, and immediately jar
the reader out of the narrative. After finding multiple uses in the
first chapter, I stopped reading to use the Kindle search feature -
which gave me the total. If I am that distracted by the over-use of the
term to stop reading and do a word search, this is a problem.
understand the desire to make the character a lone hero. Many of the
best protagonists of the genre are "lone wolves", but when you pay
attention to the books and movies in question, the protagonist is always
interacting and balanced by a host of secondary, supporting characters.
In this book, aside from "interacting" with bad guys by riddling them
with bullets, Thorn only makes a couple of phone calls and delivers one
or two extremely short bits of interactive dialogue. Without someone to
play off against, either a partner or a recurring antagonist, we spend
way too much time just reading Thorn's own inner monologue, which got
somewhat tedious, especially during the more fast-paced combat
sequences. The author really should have just focused on the
action-reaction-action-reaction of the fights, rather than the repeated
running mental commentary in Thorn's head, which slowed the pace of the
text down somewhat.
- The author's writing style isn't going to
work for everyone. Many short, clipped sentences, as well as paragraphs
separated by other "paragraphs" of extremely short sentences, or even
single-word paragraphs. While this device is good for demonstrating a
pivotal moment, it's repetition throughout the novel weakens the impact
of the device when it is needed most.
- Although it is just
playing to the source material, I thought the idea that the government
would send a single man - albeit highly successful and well-trained - to
dismantle through violence a criminal empire responsible for a *global*
drug epidemic a little far-fetched. Yes, I know, the one-man army trope
is a classic one, but I feel the hyperbolic nature of the story was a
little extreme, especially as this is the first book in the series. I
feel like now, there isn't a lot of leverage to up the ante in
subsequent stories. This complaint is just personal preference, but I
would rather have seen a smaller, more "street level" story - perhaps
Thorn being sent to nip in the bud a drug kingpin right on the verge of
making it big, rather than one whose drugs are causing a global
catastrophe affecting millions upon millions of lives.
above being said, I still enjoyed the book a lot. Technically, the ebook
was well-formatted, and I only caught a couple of very minor typos, of
the sort that always slip through no manner how carefully a book is
proofread. The book's cover is absolutely superb, and no doubt has
caught the eye of many of the book's buyers, leading to that "one-click"
impulse buy, as does the short but very evocative product description.
As of right now, Kill Zone's Amazon book ranking is hovering a little
above 2,000 in the Kindle Store, which is extremely good for a debut
In conclusion, if you're the sort who enjoys '80s
action movies starring Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, et al, as well
as serial Men's Adventure novels like The Executioner, Able Team, The
Death Merchant, and so forth, I think you'll enjoy this book, and you can pick it up on Amazon by clicking here.. There's a
ton of action right from the get-go involving fast cars, big guns,
explosions, knives to the face, flamethrowers, rocket launchers, more
explosions, people's heads being blown off, even bigger guns, and a
couple more explosions. While I have been somewhat critical above, I
hope the author doesn't take it as discouragement from writing more
books in this series, but rather as helpful feedback.