Letters of Mass Construction

Emergence: Dave vs. the Monsters by John Birmingham

Dave Hooper is having a very bad day. Mind you, not as bad as his fellow co-workers who are just going about their business of drilling oil out of the Gulf of Mexico when some nasty creatures crawled through a portal and ate them for lunch. Not just ate them but gorged on them. Ripping them apart in some sort of zombies would run in horror buffet. Dave wanders into the horror show and suddenly fines himself the unwanted hero cleaving beasties in half and generally making himself a giant pain in the ass.

This is the type of book I should have loved. Eaten up like popcorn and gone back begging for refills. The monsters were nasty and horrific. Dave is a smart ass and it is quite possible that I might have a few things in common with smart asses. He uses a splitting maul as his main form of dismembering the monsters from below. He names it Lucille (that is full of win). There are nasty ninja like creatures called Sliveen trying to end Dave. I loved the Sliveen. They were my single favorite creature in the book. Lots of action. Tons of horror. Boatloads of gore.

Despite all this, I didn’t love the book. I liked it. I finished it. I wasn’t tempted to put it aside. I just didn’t love it. I had two main problems. I really didn’t like Dave that much. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have to like main characters to enjoy a book, but for some reason Dave really annoyed me. I feel like Birmingham was going for a slightly unlikable hero who would morph into something more. It just didn’t really click for me. The second problem I had was I was not a giant fan of Birmingham’s writing style. It didn’t flow real smoothly in parts. The books pacing felt off. The first half of the book dragged in places but would then be punctuated by some great action scenes. It didn’t stop me from reading but I didn’t fly through it like I do with a book that completely captures me.

Now, the things Birmingham did that I liked. He can flat out write action and the last 25% of the book is a giant roller coaster ride of action. The monsters were great and I even liked the sections written from their point of view. I loved a lot of the supporting characters and I thought the plot was a fun one.

If you are already a fan of Birmingham this book is going to be a treat for you. If you like action packed monster movies (which was especially true of the 2nd half of this book) than enjoy the brain candy.

I am fairly certain this book will not be for everyone. The language can get crude and it reads like a summer blockbuster in some place (in particular it hammered some of the normal cliches you get in those blockbusters). However, if a quick read summer blockbuster is what you are looking for than buckle up it’s going to be an explosive ride.

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Review copy provided by Random House Publishing Group – Del Rey Spectra

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