book review: breakout

Breakout was my first (non-graphic) novel I’ve read starring the badass criminal Parker. I’ve read some Parker stories in Darwyn Cooke’s great graphic adaptations, but never one of the Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) originals. This is what I imagine the James Patterson machines/Lee Childs of the world are wishing they were writing.

Parker is a badass (I may have mentioned this already). The book opens with a heist going bad and Parker being arrested. He immediately starts making a plan to break out of jail, but he needs a crew. So he makes one, but to get one of the people he needs he has to agree to a job later, which leads to… well a plot that just keeps on ticking over. Even if things don’t feel uber-realistic they feel very appropriate for  the story. The sentences are simple and the action is clear, never super subtle, but it’s just somehow so much better than an Alex Cross story.

If you like crime stories, you should really give one of these a try (and the Darwyn Cooke comic adaptations are also great).

book review: infidel

Years ago I read God’s War by Kameron Hurley and then went a long time before reading anything by her again. Then last year I read The Mirror Empire and was blown away and have become a Hurley fan. Our library doesn’t have her new space opera book yet, but I do have the rest of the Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy so I gave Infidel a whirl.

It had been a while since I read God’s War, and I was a little unsure if I’d be able to slide right back into its sequel, but the uniqueness of the setting hooks right into the details you’d thought forgotten and I was right back in it. I love how brutal and gruesome the world of this series is. Nyx is still a ruthless assassin who is hard to kill, but she’s getting old and doesn’t have the kind of team she used to. There’s a lot of action, tonnes of bugs stitching people back together and getting shat out as bloody waste. In Infidel they go to a less war-torn country where the brutality of the characters plays in huge contrast to the polite bourgeois society that’s profiting off the war tearing everywhere else to shreds.

It’s great, pulpy action and I won’t be taking as long before reading the end of the trilogy.

UPDATE: I finished the trilogy with Rapture and yup it was similarly good.

book review: endgame (the losers vol. 5)

I was a little disappointed with Endgame, the final book of The Losers. Not because it lost the big A-Team style action from the previous books, but because Max (the big shadowy bad guy through the story) had such a Lex Luthorish grand plan. It involved creating a new rogue nuclear-armed country on a brand new island in the Persian Gulf who would do what America didn’t have the stomach for any more. Actually, putting it that way it doesn’t sound as silly. I just get stuck on the “brand new island” bit, especially since it was so reminiscent of Superman Returns.

But there was a good amount of exploding and not all of the Losers died. It was a much bigger story than the movie version, and I’m glad I finally read it. Definitely recommended if you like actiony comics without capes and tights.

book review: double down (the losers vol. 2)

As I noted in my last review of The Losers, I read this series all out of order, but still enjoyed it. Double Down is book 2 in the five book series and it has big action-movie sequences and good A-Team type hijinks, as one would expect. This volume deals with the immediate aftermath of the huge oil refinery bust-up and the betrayal by Roque at the end of the first volume.

book review: close quarters (the losers vol. 4)

Close Quarters is the fourth book in Andy Diggle and Jock’s The Losers series. While the previous volume was side trips and flashbacks, this book is straight up Cayman bank heists (in England), motorcycle chases and stealing helicopters in the process of high-seas plutonium piracy. Have I mentioned what a fun book this is? It’s like the A-Team but not nearly so dumb. I have nothing more to add.

book review: trifecta (the losers vol. 3)

It’s one of those weird gaps in my comics reading that though I loved Andy Diggle and Jock’s The Losers, I only read the first volume. Trifecta is the third volume and includes the backstory of how the team got disavowed (it’s similar to the movie version except more complicated and in Afghanistan instead of Central America). There’s also a great little story of Aisha playing her former handler in Turkmenistan.

I maintain that this book is pretty much exactly what I wish more action movies were. There’s dialogue there to be awesome and twisty plots and double-crossing and revenge. [the sound of me kissing the tips of three fingers and a thumb together and having them blossom all lotus-like]

book review: the last musketeer

The Last Musketeer is a Jason book about a Musketeer who doesn’t really have much to do, until aliens invade. Then he goes off to Mars and buckles some serious swash. Like a lot of Jason’s work there are unexplained assumptions (like why Athos is still alive, and that Mars is okay for walking around on) but the story is a pulp action tale with this detachment and loneliness to it. It’s great.