Book Reviews: BREED by Chase Novak & A WANTED MAN by Lee Child
Even though I haven’t been home much, I carry a book with me—a big, physical, heavy one—wherever I go. I may end up stoop-shouldered but at least I manage to squeeze in some reading whenever I get a moment, like while I’m stuck in traffic or waiting for the Subway employee to make my sandwich.
This allowed me to finish two books recently so I thought I’d share some thoughts, even if I’m only on a ten-minute break and typing with my iPad on my knees while one hand is clutching a protein bar.
Alex and Leslie Twisden, who have everything except children, go to great lengths for Leslie to conceive. They go to a shady doctor in Slovenia, who grants them their wish, but with horrible consequences. Ten years later, the children—twins—are locked in their rooms at night, which doesn’t prevent them from fearing for their lives.
Novak (a pseudonym for Scott Spencer) used omniscient POV so it’s hard to get attached to one character, and there are many. The detached tone helps keep some of the gruesomeness at bay, but it also prevented me from being completely sucked into the story. And some of the details were still too disgusting for me to have much fun while reading. (People with stronger stomachs may not have this problem.)
I also had a hard time suspending my disbelief at the beginning of the book, when the Twisdens visit the doctor in Slovenia. The man is such a crackpot; the ingredients in the magic, ah, serum are so wrong (foreign substances that should never be injected into your body); and the implantation process is so horrifically ridiculous that it’s a wonder the couple didn’t run out of the office screaming. I’d guess any sane person would, no matter how much he/she wants a baby. Since Alex and Leslie went through with the procedure, I thought, “Well, what did they expect?” Yes, I got judgmental, which took away from my empathy for them, even though I could tell they loved their children and tried to be good parents despite what was happening to them.
Nerd verdict: Creepy and gruesome, but lacking emotional heft
I think Child and Jack Reacher are review-proof by now; fans will buy the books no matter what critics say. It’s especially fortunate, then, that Child doesn’t just coast and churn out the same ol’ thing every year. For the first 200 pages, Reacher doesn’t do any butt-kicking at all, but the book is no less engrossing for it. The story picks up where Worth Dying For left off, with Reacher hitchhiking out of Nebraska, trying to make his way to Virginia to meet Susan, the woman behind the sexy voice that was on the phone with him for much of 61 Hours. His 6’5″ frame, bruised face, and broken nose don’t make him look desirable as a passenger, especially at night, but one car containing two men and one woman does stop for him. Reacher soon realizes something’s off when the men ask him to drive…right before they encounter police roadblocks.
Much of the suspense comes from Reacher recognizing he probably shouldn’t have accepted the ride, and our wondering what he’ll do about it. One of the passengers might be a hostage so whatever he does must prevent the innocent from being harmed. It’s also interesting how the arc about Reacher heading to Virginia to meet Susan is being teased over several books.
(SMALL 61 Hours SPOILER)
The last we saw of her, she was being deployed to Afghanistan. What will Reacher do when he finds out?
END OF SPOILER
The bone-crunching does eventually happen, along with some expected humor and unexpected twists, making Child’s novels something I’ll always stop and pick up, no matter the time of day.
Nerd verdict: Reacher is definitely Wanted
What are you reading? How do you squeeze more reading into your day?