Monday, October 19, 2009

Adventure books are not for me

Robert Masello got a fair amount of buzz for his recent Blood and Ice, which I read. It was pretty good although twice as long as it needed to be. I decided it was good enough to give him another try so I picked up his earlier Bestiary. This one involves a family of Iraqis who guard an bestiary of ancient and mythical beasts. Thanks to a crack down by Saddam and the invasion of Iraq, the bestiary is now located in the US, but the animals are dying. A restorer of ancient texts, her paleontologist husband, an Army vet and a bunch of right wing whackos clash amid the threat of the beasts escaping.

Its not a bad book by any means. There is plenty of action and inventive situations. It is overly long with action and character scenes that don't really add to the overall experience. This one avoids the general pitfall of making a tight plot that could be cut and pasted into a movie script, but falls into the other problem of more text means more story. The subplots felt like they were bogging down the narrative. I didn't get that have-to-find-out-whats happening feeling, as it was evident where the story was going. I suppose what I really look from these books is being surprised and they so rarely deliver.

Truth be told, I don't think I like adventure novels. Movies do a better job creating the scares and pace, at least in most cases. I loved Jurassic Park and Relic, but those books created a sense of suspense and excitement that I haven't found in many other adventure books. I think I will avoid these in the future unless I get a spectacular recommendation.

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