Wednesday, August 31, 2016

plumbing the future and the past for thrills

I read these two books in close succession to one another.

James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge - Zoo

Zoo cover art
Patterson and friends' book are always a quick, fast, beach read, and Zoo was pretty entertaining in parts. Taking what humans have done to the world - pollution, deforestation, cell phone towers, etc. - and taking to the nth degree how all of that technology might affect the world's animal populations is a clever concept. But ... the overall book was a bit clunky. I felt like the some of the chapters might be out of order, and the main protagonist, Jackson Oz, and his ability to save the world (or not) didn't seem very plausible to me. Plus, he hooks up with a gorgeous and brilliant French scientist, Chloe, who in the latter part of the book is relegated to his baby mama while he runs off to high-level meetings with the heads of state. Really? The television series based on the book, which I just started to catch up with on Netflix, has done a much better job with Chloe all of its characters. There is supposed to be a Zoo sequel coming. Maybe if Patterson takes a cue from TV's Zoo I'll check it out.

Stephen King - 11.23.63

Stephen King, center, with 11.23.63 actor James Franco (L), and producer J.J. Abrams (R)
Stephen King's 11.23.63 was also a quick read, but a much more satisfying one. His characters and concept stayed with me days after I finished the behemoth of a book. King pulls out all the stops - time travel, political intrigue, and even romance. His protagonist, Jake Epping, is asked very early in the book, "What if you could go back in time and prevent President John F. Kennedy from being assassinated?" For many people who can remember that day, that world event still has sad echoes. King presents a time portal without too much complicated explanation -it's a way into a great story. Jake decides to do just that - and maybe right some other wrongs of the past along the way. He visits some familiar King territory - the town of Derry, Maine, in particular, the setting of his horror novel It. Some folks, like myself, may not be thrilled to find themselves back in the home town of Pennywise the clown. But Jake's main focus, and ultimate target is Lee Harvey Oswald. Will he be able to determine if Oswald acted alone, debunking future conspiracy theorists everywhere? It's a tense, gripping read, with a truly touching romance thrown in to boot. It's also a miniseries on Hulu, starring James Franco, so my viewing queue just got a little bit bigger.


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