Posted in Reviews

Mediocrity Roundup 2: The Mediocrity Strikes Back

Sometimes, books just aren’t remarkable enough to validate writing an entire blog post for each one. As such, I’ve bundled a few novel reviews together into a roundup of mediocrity, perhaps at the Just OK Corral. Wow, that was a bad joke.

Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten

Yes, that’s the name. I read Meg because I saw an ad for a book later in the series called Hell’s Aquarium. I didn’t want to start in the middle of things, so I grabbed the first book. Meg is like reading a b-grade sci-fi movie, much like a Syfy Original (think Sharknado). In Meg, an ex-navy deep submersible pilot has spent the last seven years proving that megalodons could exist in the Mariana Trench in order to salvage his conscience after an unfortunate incident. Long story short, megalodons do exist and one makes it to the surface of the ocean to wreak havoc.

Meg was a fairly decent read, even if it got a bit wild and fantastical at the end (even with a plot line like I described above, it got wild and fantastical). Don’t go into it expecting an excellent work of literature; this is a movie in a book. I’ll call this one a READ WITH CAUTION for those of you like me who like ancient animals and bad movies.

Boundary Crossed by Melissa F Olsen

Boundary Crossed is your basic urban fantasy novel, where magic and magical creatures exist in a separate, secret society alongside the normal world. The main character discovers that she is a special kind of witch after thwarting a couple of vampires trying to kidnap her niece. There wasn’t anything special about the plot to this novel, and the characterization was spotty. I will hand it to the author that she tried to make the area and characters unique and real, but it fell a bit short of total success. The plot was paced far too quickly to allow for the type of development the writer seemed to want to convey. It was amusing enough, in a potato chip fiction sort of way. I’d call this another READ WITH CAUTION, as it wasn’t too bad. Borrow, don’t buy.

Dust by Jacqueline Druga

I didn’t get through the back story before putting it down. The writing style is just not my thing. In the space of two pages, the author dramatically states “It happened…” four times. She also uses single quotation marks for emphasis. RUN.

Arena One by Morgan Rice

To create this novel, I feel the author must have binge-watched and read The Hunger Games Series, The Divergent Series, and a variety of post-apocalyptic movies involving fighting arenas. The plot is simple: after the fall of society (a war between political parties involving nukes), the main character and her sister hide out in the mountains until the sister is taken to fight in massive arena battles.

I read about half of this book before I could take no more. I don’t think the author ever actually thought about the plot at all. In this world, gas lasts forever (never breaks down) and motorcycles with sidecars can regularly drive at close to 200 mph with no issues. In this world, a 17-year-old girl can flawlessly drive a motorcycle that’s been sitting for three years without being cranked at speeds of over 120 mph, sometimes up to 200 mph, on icy roads with no incidents. She can also ram fortified muscle cars with the motorcycle, flip various cars, and ram several gates with only minor injuries, over and over again.

This book is so inexplicable; I had to put it down. Why anyone looked at this plot and said “that’s reasonable” is beyond me. Books like this make me wonder just how many authors pay for reviews. RUN.

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

This was supposed to be an interesting take on the story of Jesus’ birth, told by an author I’ve enjoyed in the past. For some reason, however, this book didn’t quite live up to what I expected. Basically, we follow the exploits of a thief named the Antioch Ghost, who after escaping Herod’s dungeons with two fellow criminals, finds himself in a small stable in Bethlehem that is already occupied. Cue exploits loosely following history.

While I do think that it provides an interesting take of the historical aspects of politics surrounding the supposed time of Jesus’ birth, the book was just written a bit too action-esque. I felt rather like I was reading a Prince of Persia game, with odd perspective shifts (to an ibex, nonetheless). While it wasn’t bad, it was also not nearly as good as the other titles I’ve read by this author. I also thought the title was misleading. While technically, the exploits therein are not holy, the term “unholy” is associated with things of a different nature. In the end, the book tried to wax religious and philosophical, which I think was a dangerous move, but also just seemed out of place. Again, this is a READ WITH CAUTION.

So there you have it. Needless to say, I haven’t exactly been reading the cream of the crop, but some of these titles might do it for a few folks. Good luck!

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