The Gemini Effect, by Chuck Grossart, was a pretty mediocre, action-driven work of speculative fiction. I appreciated some of the storytelling methods of the author, but was overall rather hum-ho about the story itself. Most of the characters were likeable and didn’t make the token poor decisions that often plague stories like these, which elevated the novel beyond the simplistic, expected story. Since I got the book for free through the Kindle First program, I didn’t feel cheated. I wouldn’t pay over two dollars for an ebook copy, though. In short, this is a READ WITH CAUTION.
Here, There Be Spoilers
The Gemini Effect follows the path of a DNA-changing biochemical weapon as it is accidentally exposed to a rat and then humanity. The monsters created by the weapon attack everything mercilessly, wiping out cities in mere hours. The time frame of the book spans a few days, where the US goes from somewhat peaceful, near-future nation to crazy storm of chaos.
The novel seemed to escalate from one expected scenario to the next. A bio-engineered disease, thought to be incinerated long ago, rears its ugly head and causes trouble for the US. The disease spreads violently as people try to cope with it. Add some corrupt politicians, a sleeper KGB plot, Soviets stealing technology from Nazi Germany, the Nazi Angel of Death, and a cadre of increasingly improbable scenarios, and you get the gist of this book.
I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel, and how the biochemical weapon is introduced into the story. You follow the story of a car that gets used as an escape by someone infected by the disease, and then accidently left in a junkyard, mistakenly not incinerated. This was a very interesting hook into the story, even if it’s clear early on that it isn’t going to blow you away. I also enjoyed the epilogue, as it was done well and wasn’t easy to immediately figure out, like most of the rest of the book.
The characters in The Gemini Effect were fairly pleasing. The scientists were smart and didn’t get caught in the crazy notion of “I need to poke this with a stick just once more, because SCIENCE!” that so often perpetuates the plot of stories like this. The military characters were also plausible, and not just transparent meatheads that had no intelligent thoughts or desires. It was refreshing to see characters that weren’t run of the mill.
There was a lot in the book that was downright odd, as the situations escalated into craziness. Special secret chemicals that allow a sleeper KGB agent to control minds, the threat of nuclear warfare, and even mind powers come up before the book ended. In all, it felt a lot like a medium budget action movie that would air on TV on Saturday night after the primetime spot.
There’s not much to say about the book other than that. I read this novel very quickly, partly because it was easy to read and the action was continuous, but partly because I had the time. I doubt I would have purchased this. There were a few odd grammatical choices, but nothing incredibly off-putting. If the writer can bolster his skill to the match his intro and epilogue, the novels he writes will have some promise. If you’re looking for potato chip fiction that is a bit like reading a movie, this would probably interest you. If you’re wanting something deeper, though, I wouldn’t waste the money or time. READ WITH CAUTION.