This is an attempt to review three novels in one go. As they are all similar/inter-connected, it seems pointless to tackle each individually.
Matthew Reilly is an oddity – An Australian writer who has cracked into the action/espionage market. The stories move at breakneck speed, from his ‘Wonders’ series to this batch of ‘Scarecrow’ tales.
We follow the fantastic journey of a US Marine, call sign Scarecrow. He is no ordinary Marine. Not once, but thrice, the fate of the world rests on his shoulders. It’s tough enough to be sparring with other nations intent on stopping him, but when he realises he has traitors within his team, it comes down to Scarecrow to do it solo.
I’m sure most of you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? For those too young (way to make me feel old!), you got to the end of each page, then had a choice of 2/3 options, and turned to the relevant page for your pick.
We are going to do the same here, feel free to mix and match!
A – If Trump’s heart stops beating, then airports in the US north will explode. Sorry, I know that’s teasing, what’s a few airports to get rid of the turnip?
B – A cartel of Earth’s richest men are intent on launching nuclear strikes against most of the world’s major cities. Just to make more money.
C – Nations are slaughtering each other to access a UFO stuck under the ice. Scarecrow is fighting SEALS, and is saved by seals.
The Bad Guys:
A – The Chinese, the Russians, and parts of the US government. Britain. And the French.
B – Most of his command structure, some of his Marines, and the President’s Men. Britain. And the French.
C – 12 of the world’s richest men employ a bunch of psychotic bounty hunters. And the French. (The Brits helped him this time.)
Seriously, he was asked after the last novel what he had against the French. He saw them as perfectly placed to play the modern villain in the absence of Germany/Russia/Japan etc.
A – Pretty much everything, including an iceberg, a submarine and a UFO.
B – Nearly everything, including fighter planes, half his team, Russian bases and a French Castle.
C – Everything, and then more. Seriously, I tried keeping a rough ‘insurance’ count in one of these, and my eyes starting rolling when we hit multiple trillions…
A – Climbs up from the launch vehicle to a space shuttle, just before separation. Overpowers crew, flies back to land. All in the space of 15min.
B – Spends up to 7 hours (out of 24) in freezing Antarctic waters. No wonder he is knackered for the final fight.
C – By my count, he loses his trusted sidekick Mother (a brute of a lady) 8 times over the 3 novels. Yet she is there hosting another BBQ at the end of the 3rd novel, making Houdini look like a novice.
I think you get the idea…
To be honest, you can grab 2 from each category and still fall short of just one novel. When the climax of each draws near, the trials and tribulations Scarecrow has faced flash though his exhausted mind. Then you are reminded he has essentially fought off up to 3 national forces and saved the world in 24 hours – again.
I generally don’t read Fantasy. This ebbs awfully close to that shore, but then, what espionage novel doesn’t flirt with that line. If you can suspend reality, then Reilly does a good job of telling a fast paced tale, loaded with action. Judging from the progression, I might need a seatbelt for the next world crisis.
** Reilly has also written Hover Car Racer. Originally written as an internet serial, and aimed at YA, this was great! OK, I’m an F1 fan (can’t stand most other motor sport), but this one held me cover to cover. Shows the versatility of Reilly – he has appeal with different audiences, and knows how to pace a story. One could say he chooses the ‘speed’ of his writing…