I love Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul, but if they don't do better in future books in the Oregon Files series they won't keep me as a reader.
The base story of Plague Ship could have only come from the imaginative mind of Clive Cussler. Jack Du Brul is a brilliant writer when it comes to describing difficult escapes.
Unfortunately, the base story overwhelmed Jack Du Brul so that the book is threadbare in character development, almost devoid of menace derived from the villain's plots, and missing obvious elements to make the book's premises more credible. I found myself wondering why the book was so poorly constructed except in the excellent escape sequences involving the crew of the Oregon.
The book opens with a historical sketch involving a Nazi reconnaissance plane looking for a convoy headed for Russia. I liked the opening. But in the epilogue, Du Brul fails to make enough of a connection between the two sections for the concept to work. I doubt if Cussler even read the two sections. A rookie editor could have made suggestions that would have helped.
From there the book picks up as the Oregon's crew seeks to verify for the CIA that the Russians are selling advanced torpedoes to the Iranians. It is a grand adventure, and an even grander escape. The book drifts sideways on locating a derelict vessel littered with dead bodies. The book then dives downward quality-wise in describing a cult that favors reducing the world's population. Except for interruptions for interesting escapes, I found the rest of the book to be less and less interesting.
In giving the book three stars, I would say Plague Ship went from five stars down to dribbling along at two stars and ending at one star in the epilogue.
I wouldn't suggest that you avoid this book, but don't have very high expectations either.
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This is the first Oregon book I've read as an intro to the almost perfect crew and wondrous super ship technology. Here Captain Juan and his crew run across a cruise ship with more than a few casualties. Clues point to the "Responsivists" a population control cult led by some enigmatic characters. Of course the fate of the human race is at stake so the Oregon crew race against time. Along the way they run into many small battles written in high detail; real, unusual locales (Corinth Canal); maybe possible technology (kinetic energy tungsten rods) and so on, the usual Cussler fare. Oh, and a historical opening scene that closes a loop at the end. All in all a good read but a little too formulaic.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Yet another home run for Cussler & DuBrulJune 18 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Before I begin my review, I want to rant a bit here: When are the publishers (and Clive) going to give Jack DuBrul credit for the MAJORITY of the work done on these novels? (same goes for Paul Kemprecos on the NUMA Files books) Sure, Clive may come up with the storylines, but the writing is PURE DuBrul. He is the single reason why the Oregon Files novels have been resurrected from certain death after Craig Dirgo virtually put the 1st two books on life-support. Let's give credit where it is so very deserved to be: squarely on Jack's shoulders.
Okay, enough of the soap box...how is the book, you ask? Even better than Skeleton Coast, which was better than Dark Watch, which was INFINITELY better than Sacred Stone, the last book co-authored by Dirgo (thanks again Clive for making the choice to dump Dirgo for DuBrul). This one really takes Clive's patented storytelling to heart. The opening of the book from deep within World War II and the discovery of something rather surprising, to the opening of the story where Juan Cabrillo and his intrepid group of Do Good mercenaries attempt to hijack some Russian designed super-torpedoes in the heart of Iran and the eventual discovery of an apparently abandoned cruise ship on the high seas just ripe to claim as their own after exercising international law. Only this ship, as you can tell from the cover of the book is in for a bit of a shock--literally.
We learn the cruise ship was chartered by a group called Responsivists, a VERY similar-to-Scientology religion that exhorts that we are breeding ourselves to death and encourages people to sterilize themselves in order to get a handle on world over-population...they even have a group of doctors that'll do it just as soon as you make the choice. Rather extreme don't you think? Well of course it is, otherwise we wouldn't hate the organization enough to want to see their eventual downfall which we KNOW is coming by books end. This time, one of Juan's crew is directly affected when he discovers his son has fallen victim to the Responsivists Preaching and joins the cult. They hire the worlds best-known and successful Responsivist DE-Programmer to help them as they hatch a plan to kidnap the boy and set him straight with extreme therepy prejudice.
All does not go as planned (as one would expect) and this is where the action really heats up. We even see a run through some rather narrow straights with the Oregon herself which if ever put on the big screen would make it one of the most talked about visuals you'd ever see. Not surprisingly the Responsivists are up to some rather disturbing plans, one that has global consequences, and Juan and the crew of the Oregon are thankfully in the right place at the right time to take action.
Let's face it, there were few surprises to be had within the pages of Plague Ship (or pretty much any Cussler/DuBrul novel for that matter) but that isn't the reason why we read them. We crack open a Cussler/DuBrul novel because of the pure escapism we get to immerse ouselves in while doing so. This is another slam-bang shoot 'em up action adventure tale which took me away into that world that I so enjoy visiting. Is it literature? Gosh no...but it IS entertaining. I've said for several years now that DuBrul was Cussler's Heir-Apparent and would seem that Plauge Ship only serves to drive that observation home even further. For those who have enjoyed this who haven't read one of DuBrul's solo Phillip Mercer novels, you simply MUST pick up Vulcan's Forge and all the sequels, boy are you in for a treat. He is 100% a great storyteller very similar (and different) to the *feel* of Cussler's Dirk Pitt series. Fun and LOADED with action.
Long story short: I had a great time reading this book and once again find myself sitting around wondering just how long I have to wait before I get to read another new one...? While I may moan about the time in between DuBrul and/or Cussler novels, I'd rather wait (impatiently by the way) for a good novel than get stuck with a story that was just So-So to satisfy my need to read. With that said however, come on, does it really take THAT long??
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Oregon files back to their bestJuly 5 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Once again the Cussler novels mix comic book type fiction with real life hitech military scenarios so well. In the dependably entertaining if less than top-notch fifth Oregon Files thriller from bestseller Cussler and Du Brul (after Skeleton Crew), Capt. Juan Cabrillo, who heads the Corporation, a covert military company for hire, and the multifaceted crew of the Oregon, a high-tech ship disguised to look like a tramp steamer, take on a group known as the Responsivists. The Responsivists publicly espouse a program of global population control, but are secretly planning a devastating attack on the human race utilizing a virulent virus found aboard an ancient ship that may be Noah's Ark. The authors are up to their usual high standards when in fighting mode, though the chief villain, the doctor who heads the Responsivists, falls short of Juan's billing as the single-most-evil human being I have ever met. As a thriller writer myself I struggle to find books I really enjoy, but Cussler books are always good fun. Readers may wish that next time out the bad guys put up more of a struggle
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Cussler has done it againJune 4 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Clive Cussler is one of those authors you wish would write faster than they do. His books are suspenseful and always full of action. Plague Ship is by far the best yet of the Oregon Files series. Once you get past the preliminary story it turns to an immediate page turner. GREAT BOOK ! ! ! If I had one wish beyond having this author write faster .. I would ask Hollywood to make more of his stories into movies.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"...civilization would never recover ... this thing is a doomsday weapon"Aug. 18 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Rough-and-tumble adventure at sea with high-tech; Clive Cussler owns the genre. Plague Ship (Oregon Files) is the fourth book of the Oregon series but the first that I've read and it was no surprise to find a fantastic story line and implausible derring-do. Just what I was hoping for!
The Oregon series features Juan Cabrillo and his Corporation. Cabrillo is an ex-CIA operative turned paramilitary mercenary. Along with his hand-picked team he takes assignments mainly from the CIA. Oregon is the Corporation's base ship, a rust bucket refitted for speed, maneuverability and anonymity.
PLAGUE SHIP's plot is built around an organization called the Responsivists, whose aim is to redistribute wealth by population reduction; the plot is too complex to summarize easily but be assured that it's full of wild chases and battles on land and sea. Cabrillo and his Corporation achieve several rescues of team members from impossibly dangerous situations; there are some "MacGyver moments" and some exciting technology. The outcome is never in doubt.
This series is co-authored, in this case by Jack Du Brul, but it bears Cussler's stamp. I found it well written and fun, a four-star read. My main issues (besides predictability) were the rather lame "bracketing story" in the prologue and epilogue, and the possibly too-large Corporation team. Juan Cabrillo is no Dirk Pitt, but he does rule his operation with flair. I will definitely read more from this series.
Linda Bulger, 2008
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Cussler's star rises again!July 8 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
The Corporation is a mercenary private enterprise for hire by any government agency that can afford its fees. Juan Cabrillo, the Chairman, runs his black ops from a ship called "The Oregon". Disguised as an overused, out of date, non-descript mercantile vessel that's destined for the scrap yard, the Oregon is actually a state of the art war vessel packed with high-tech intelligence gathering equipment, powerful weaponry and a fully muscled set of magnetohydrodynamic engines that, pushed to flank speed, will give virtually any ship on the high seas a run for its money. If you've read any Clive Cussler novels at all, it won't be a surprise to hear that Cabrillo is right over the top - an entirely unbelievable lead character (think Mr Phelps from Mission Impossible on steroids) leading an equally unbelievable crew with uncanny intelligence and virtually superhuman strength and endurance. The missions they accept in Cussler's Oregon Files series are typically of the "save the world from domination by a nefarious lunatic" variety.
When I reviewed "Golden Buddha", the first in the Oregon Files series, I gave it a grudging single star and swore that I would likely never read another Cussler novel again. Frankly, it was just awful! I abstained for two years but, perhaps it was my past fondness for Cussler's earliest novels that made me relent and pick up "Plague Ship" for another try at Cussler's work.
OK, OK ... nice job, Mr Cussler! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
This time out, Cabrillo and his team of merry men (and women) are pitted against a cult-like organization called The Responsivists who believe in stern birth control measures and a rigid, disciplined reduction in the world birth rate. In marked contrast to its public pacifist exterior, however, the Responsivist leaders are not willing to sit back and simply wring their hands over the world's burgeoning population problem. They intend to do something about it by releasing a virus that will make the Ebola and Marburg viruses look like a case of weekend sniffles. Bio-terrorism is a frightening, timely topic and this time out, Cussler did his fans proud with a well-written high speed thriller that is easily the equal of his earliest Dirk Pitt novels!
And, I confess I particularly enjoy a thriller that is spotted with info-dump sidebars of a technical nature that enhance the thriller without distracting from the pacing of the plot. There was lots of these goodies to enjoy along the way - the physics of ELF (Extremely Long Frequency) radio transmission and reception; the translation of cuneiform and the possible origins of mythological flood stories; the philosophies of cults and de-programming; left over high tech weaponry from the US-Soviet Cold War era; and the use of north-south satellite orbits for space based weaponry as opposed to geosynchronous orbits for weather or communication satellites!