Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour: Something Else by Robin Parrish

It occurs to me that, as Offworld by Robin Parrish is a science fiction book, I might be expected to contribute something a little more relevant to this tour than a list of obscure pop songs.

But it is an important and popular fact that we do things differently here, and as my offering of relevance I therefore present a review of something entirely different: Merciless, by Robin Parrish.

Merciless is volume three of the Dominion Trilogy; my reviews of the earlier volumes Relentless and Fearless can be pretty much summed up as ‘flawed page-turners’.

And it has to be said that Merciless pretty much follows in the same mould. That’s not to say it’s a bad book – on the contrary, Robin Parrish is undoubtedly good at what he does, which is Hollywood blockbuster on the printed page. The action in Merciless is even bigger and faster than in the earlier books, the stakes are global, the climactic battle huge, and the journey to it a great ride.

However, the flaws remain, and from a writer’s perspective, this book looked a little like it was edited on a Friday afternoon. Some sentences have no place in a professionally published book. Like:
They could do nothing but watch as the hole grew in size, first to the dimensions of a fist, and eventually bigger and bigger until it was half the mass of a man.
And then there’s the car chase. The car chase with a complete absence of internal logic, even as car chases go: one minute our heroes car can’t outrun a garbage truck, but the next chapter, having been bashed about a bit by said garbage truck, can ‘accelerate with the best of them’, and keep pace with a Mustang. Garbage trucks in the US must be a lot different than the humble British bin lorry, that’s all I can say.

But despite its flaws, Merciless is overall an enjoyable novel in the ‘superhero gone bad’ mould, in which our band of Ringwearers are pitched against ubervillain Oblivion (try saying that when you’ve had a few beers), a mysterious civilisation descended from Cain (yes, that’s right, an actual Bible reference, right at the end of the book!), and an army of superzombies. Add to that the fact that time is on the blink and planet Earth is rapidly turning into DarkWorld in preparation for all kinds of supernatural nastiness, and you have a pretty action packed 400 pages. In between times a few confusing loose ends about Grant Borrows and his origin are tied up, and Grant himself manages to have a spiritual epiphany, albeit one without any overt Christian influence.

Flawed, but fun, and I suppose this last volume leaves space for discussion between Christian and non-Christian readers of the trilogy.


Rachel Starr Thomson said...

I was wondering when someone else might comment on the editing! I haven't read "Merciless," but "Offworld" had a few screamers. A petite young woman "piling" out of an SUV, a raging river "stampeding" down the street, and sentences that just really needed tightening up. The amazing thing was that even with flawed writing, the book sucked me in. Tribute to great pacing and an intriguing plot!

UKSteve said...

I'm glad it wasn't just me then Rachel! It's a shame really that the bad points were quite so memorable, as you say, the pace and plot more than made up for them.