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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Impact" by Douglas Preston (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Visit Douglas Preston's Official Website (along with Lincoln Child) Here
Order Impact from Amazon Here

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Douglas Preston is one half of a super-successful writing duo along with Lincoln Child. He has written 5 nonfiction titles and 4 solo fiction titles. He’s also co-written 13 books with Lincoln Child, among which their debut Relic was made into a movie. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine, and has written for other publications such as National Geographic, Natural History, Smithsonian, Harper's and Travel & Leisure just to name a few.

PLOT SUMMARY: Wyman Ford, the protagonist from Blasphemy is back. This time he is going back to a place of great personal tragedy, Cambodia, with a mission to locate the source of some beautiful gemstones that don't appear to be of this world.

On the other side of the world in Maine, a meteor lights up the sky on descent to Earth. Abby Sunclair decides to investigate this incident and along with a friend borrows a boat and sets out to find the crater caused by it.

Meanwhile, a technician at NPF, National Propulsion Facility, begins to receive strange data. Data that seems to have no logical explanation, yet! High resolution NASA images reveal an unnatural feature hidden in a crater on the planet Mars. However this feature appears to have been activated and may be a dangerous weapon that could harm Earth.

Wyman Ford and a team of scientists must figure out how to destroy this alien doomsday weapon within the next sixty hours. The only tools that are available to them are in orbit around Mars and they include the Orbiter, the Mars lander on the surface, and several smaller satellites orbiting the Red Planet. None of these objects carry anything that could be considered a weapon and the clock is ticking. Sixty hours and counting!

FORMAT/INFO: The ARC which I received consisted of 368 pages split into 99 numbered chapters with an epilogue. Narration is via third person and through many characters. This book is part of a series focusing on Wyman Ford and follows the events of Preston’s last book, Blasphemy. This tale however is a self-contained one with a proper conclusion and does not require the reader to be familiar with the previous books.

ANALYSIS: Impact begins by exposing the reader to several different threads all of them seemingly different and unrelated to each other.

The first thread leads readers on to Mark Costco, a scientist working at the NPF. He receives a disc of data from his mentor. The information contained on the disc leads him to question his seniors and investigate the meaning of the data.

The second thread opens up in Maine and shows us a small fishing town wherein Abby Sinclair, a college dropout with an arcane interest in astronomy, manages to see a comet while taking pictures. This prompts a search for the crater that puts her and friends in jeopardy.

The third and last thread gives us Wyman Ford who is asked to undertake a mission to Cambodia to investigate the source of the gemstones. He reluctantly agrees and goes to the country wherein his marriage came to a halt.

The readers get to see these three characters take their individual paths as they try to achieve their objectives and understand what is really going on. Wyman finds himself in a region which has remade Hell on Earth, while Abbey finds herself in a race of sorts to find the remains of the comet. Meanwhile, Mark has to deal with his higher-ups, who view his efforts as wasted time and try to redirect him onto tasks of their own choosing.

Douglas Preston takes great care to develop each story thread individually and then make them come together around the middle of the book. The ultimate gel which links all these seemingly unrelated threats together is the heart of the story and is of extraterrestrial origins. The writing and dialogue are all very polished. As are the chapters which come very close to a century.

The end while a bit simplistic is somewhat unexpected. A few discerning readers might also spot some congruences with the ending in one of Lincoln Child's previous solo thrillers. Few readers might also take umbrage that certain characters and situations in the book act a bit out of fashion. However, keep in mind that this is a fiction book and while it's laced with science, which is very real, it does attempt a tiny detour from reality in some aspects. Enjoy it for what it is, an engaging thriller from one of the smartest writers around, and your reading experience will be a good one!

If you are a fan of James Rollins, Matthew Reilly and Clive Cussler or any of Douglas Preston's this book is highly recommended. Impact is another winner from Douglas Preston's imagination. His solo books are finally reaching the lofty standards set up by his other co-authored thrillers.


Anonymous said...

The book review of the Douglas Preston book "Impact" is very poorly written... typos, grammar, misused words.

Strange that someone who is reviewing a book, and is presumably literate, is writing so poorly.

Not trying to be mean, but I would think the level of professionalism should be increased. Maybe editing copy before posting would help.

Cindy said...

Each reviewer has their own style. But it should be noted that this is a blog that is done as a hobby. While we take the time to edit reviews and such we all have full time jobs that take up most of my time. For that reason things get skipped over and missed.

FBC is and always will be a hobby. It's a blog with posts from a bunch of sci-fi/fantasy lovers.

If you didn't like the unprofessionalism of the review as you pointed out you may skip over it and go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Interesting but full of language and sex. No more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BillM said...

For map & geography lovers, this novel is a delight! The Maine islands & waterways are fairly accurate. If anyone can find all of the islands, please post the info. I found all but Ripp Island, maybe fictitious, and Crow Island is not likely to have had a "ferry heading to Tenants Harbor," nor an "Earth Station." But, hey, it's a novel! And a great one. Can't wait until my third reading!


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