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Commentaires écrits par
Jeffrey Swystun (Toronto & Mont Tremblant)
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

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The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge
The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge
Offered by Macmillan CA
Prix : CDN$ 13.99

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Wild Tale, March 20 2015
One of my father's favourite movies was Man in the Wilderness. It came out in 1971 and we would watch it every time it came on TV and then he bought it on Betamax and later VHS. Over all the viewings, I did not know anything about Hugh Glass or that Richard Harris was playing the man. The Revenant is the latest homage to Glass in fiction form and it joins several nonfiction accounts. Glass' real life needs very little creative embellishment...it is a wild tale indeed.

Still Punke takes the rich source material and fills in the blanks with fascinating situations and detail. The exploration and industry of the early West will intrigue as the backdrop for Glass' revenge-driven odyssey. The prose flows wonderfully and we feel the internal fire that spurns the man to go on and on. The story flips back and forth between Glass' trek and the whereabouts of Bridger and Fitzgerald who historically and in this version are the men who left him for dead. The grizzly attack that prompts the story will grab and scar you too. I was captivated from the first page and am now looking forward the upcoming movie version with Leonardo DiCaprio (does he only do historical films?). Lastly, I love the book cover!

The Great Zoo of China
The Great Zoo of China
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Prix : CDN$ 15.99

2.0 étoiles sur 5 Loud, Repetitive Video Game, March 19 2015
Years back Reilly's Scarecrow series floored me. It was excellent action freshly presented. So I am a fan who picked up his latest with fun expectations. The inevitable comparisons to Jurassic Park have been made, in fact, the book's promotion leverages the similarities. Even a character refers to Crichton's work. Other inspirations are evident ranging from Aliens to early Preston & Child books to Blackfish. That equation is absolutely fine with me being a fan of all.

The problems come en masse and early. I do love my action but there was zero foreplay before there were giant dragons flying around, guns blazing and cars racing. It became quickly repetitive, loudly juvenile, and progressively too fantastic. My incredulity came not from the dragons, who were well imagined, but from the plot and the character's actions and dialogue. It is akin to a YA novel like James Patterson's Maximum Ride series or a very graphic comic book for twelve year old boys. Basically, The Great Zoo of China is a video game masquerading as a novel.

The Deep
The Deep
by Nick Cutter
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 20.06
37 used & new from CDN$ 16.98

2.0 étoiles sur 5 Needs more 'Gets, March 14 2015
Ce commentaire est de: The Deep (Hardcover)
I am very pleased for Cutter's success. The author of The Troop and this effort has attracted attention from critics, readers and an important endorsement from Stephen King. Indeed he emulates King in many ways but tends to be more dense in content, more serious in tone. Both of his books have suffered from being overhyped. This set high expectations for me that have led to disappointment.

The Deep has been positioned as an "utterly terrifying novel where The Abyss meets The Shining." It reminded me more of The Martian by Andy Weir (but is nowhere near as strong in execution). This is because of the setting in an underwater science station and the plot that revolves around survival (both of the human race and the individuals beneath the surface). The book starts well providing background on a plague called the ‘Gets. It causes people to forget even basic things until eventually their bodies forget how to function.

The book was most interesting above the waters' surface. A more interesting plot would be how 'Gets was impacting the world. Unfortunately 98% of the book takes place below where a protracted and repetitive plot annoyed and bored. The purpose of the station is to find a cure for the plague but it is a substitute for the traditional haunted house. The main character's flashbacks provided some interest but not enough to offset very familiar horror/thriller ground. Still I stuck it out intrigued by the possible resolution. This too, disappointed. It was reminiscent of an old Star Trek or Outer Limits episode. Still I will read this Toronto author's new efforts hopeful that he will improve and honour that loyalty.

Rewinder
Rewinder
Prix : CDN$ 5.45

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Going Back to go Forward, March 13 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Rewinder (Kindle Edition)
First off...how can a fellow reviewer on Amazon say "it's awful" and that is it? Surely an author who invests so much in the effort deserves more. Come on Amazon...protect the folks you profit from willful misdirection. For background, I have enjoyed the author previously but found this effort curious, if not, entertaining. Time travel is a tough subject and like other efforts that take it on there are giant holes in Rewinder...but who cares? We all fantasize about the possibility and most forgo the science.

Battles has provided a fine premise and likeable characters. The plot builds with maturity that belies its YA base or audience. It is still a Hunger Games or a Resurgence but an entertaining one. It had me guessing and wondering throughout. So pick it up and you will put it down a few hours later entertained and challenged.

Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years
Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years
by Various
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 30.09
47 used & new from CDN$ 30.09

4.0 étoiles sur 5 The Dark Detective, March 11 2015
This is a celebration and an intriguing one. The best parts are the all too short editorials. These provide an introduction to the eras of Batman. Each speaks of the Dark Knight's evolution in character. Then in each section we are treated to a handful of full story examples that "illustrate" the progression. My nostalgic favourite comes from the seventies. That Batman seemed both dark, yet optimistic.

I now enjoy the earliest incarnation and related stories. That Batman was more a sleuth like Sherlock Holmes so there is intelligence in the plot even though they are quite predictable. Fast forward and clearly something went a bit weird with all of the Robin derivatives. I am happy to have missed all of that. Perhaps DC can resolve and rectify such a mess. Overall, you definitely need to be a fan to enjoy this collection. If you are then find out a bit more about what makes Bruce tick.

The Culled (The Afterblight Chronicles Book 1)
The Culled (The Afterblight Chronicles Book 1)
Prix : CDN$ 0.00

2.0 étoiles sur 5 Second Time Round, March 5 2015
I read this in paperback when it first came out. My memory of that turn through the pages was favourable. In this second pass, it did not hold up as well. Since the original publication there have been an overwhelming number of post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels written. What first appealed in The Culled was the premise even if the execution was rough and a little off-putting. This time the cults and factions in a much changed world came across as absurd rather than threatening. Readers should know that this became a series so may choose to tough it out to see if it improves.

Mr. Was
Mr. Was
by Pete Hautman
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 10.99
34 used & new from CDN$ 3.16

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Mission in Time, March 2 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Mr. Was (Paperback)
A young adult time travel novel you say. No doubt it will be simplistic even juvenile. It is bound to tread familiar ground. These statements could not be farther from the truth. In fact, the only clue to this being written for a younger audience is the complete lack of expletives. I actually found this refreshing and not for prudish reasons but for the author's need to be more selective in word choice.

So many aspects of this book work. The plotting is fresh, intriguing and entertaining throughout. There are layers of decent complexity and surprises that run to the very last page. We follow teenager Jack Lund back in time. Jack is on a mission to right a horrible wrong. There is such grit behind this premise that, once again, the YA classification does not seem accurate. I must admit that I rushed the book. It felt as if I was flipping pages like I did in my youth when when a new comic arrived on the stands. Hautman gives the reader, regardless of age, credit for their intellect. This was fun, fast and entertaining. I look forward to rereading it in time. By the way, after finishing it I read more about the author and love his quirky biographies on Amazon and his website.

Valhalla
Valhalla
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Prix : CDN$ 10.99

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Familiar Formula that Entertains, Feb. 27 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Valhalla (Kindle Edition)
My fellow reviewers have pointed out that Valhalla reads like a Clive Cussler novel. It also reminded me of Matthew Reilly adventures. It is unquestionably formula but well done formula. All of the required components are present:

- an ancient artifact that could change the world
- an evil man with means
- a highly capable military man
- the love interest who is often a scientist
- globe trotting locales
- plenty of gunfire
- a race against time

You get the idea. It is also helpful to throw in some references to the Nazis and feature special forces units. Valhalla treads familiar ground but does it in a capable, entertaining and pleasing way. It is a fun escape best suited for a rainy afternoon or as an airplane read.

Tales of the Forgotten(A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Novel Vol 2)
Tales of the Forgotten(A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Novel Vol 2)
Prix : CDN$ 3.42

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Familiar Terrain, Feb. 23 2015
J.L. Bourne is to blame. He is a major contributor to the explosion of all things zombie this past decade. His series of Day by Day novels follows a military man in a much changed world. The proliferation of similar plots and situations has been staggering since he reinvigorated the 'last man on earth' premise. Now we have the Arisen series by Glynn James and Michael Stephen Fuchs, The Remaining series by D.J. Molles and many, many more.

So it was with some hesitation that I invested time in Lundy's series. After all, how new and fresh could it be? The genre is now largely a furious plagiarism of the same characters and stories. This thesis held true once I had read the exploits of cut-off military personnel in Afghanistan. They are truly caught behind enemy lines. So it is really nothing new and no more than serviceable in style, substance and plot. However, my big learning is that I love the premise so will forgive the repetition and so-so quality. In this regard, I am a pliable sucker.

Hunting Season
Hunting Season
Offered by Macmillan CA
Prix : CDN$ 8.99

2.0 étoiles sur 5 A Very Long Season, Feb. 17 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Hunting Season (Kindle Edition)
There is definitely curious value in this thriller. As it was published pre 911, in early 2001, the disgruntled militia-type villains seem almost quaint now. It is fascinating to read about such nostalgic threats. The author also keeps the plot going...and going. Just when you think (or hope) it's over, it finds another incredulous thread to pull. These include the most laborious inter-agency wrangling between the FBI, CIA and ATF. Then there is vague back story that prompts a CIA assassin to romp around. A tightening up by a rigorous editor would have been great.

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