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Area 7 by Matthew Reilly
== Plot ==
This is the second novel in the Shane Scofield aka Scarecrow series. Scarecrow is a uS marine. He is known as Scarecrow because he has a vertical scar running down across each eye which is why he likes to wear cool sunglasses when killing people.
Basically, what plot there is, goes something like this, after his last adventure in the novel, Icestation, the Marine Core decide to assign Shane Scofield to presidential protection duty, so the media can't get access to him. He ends up protecting the president when he travels on the marine helicopter, Marine 1.
They make a routine visit to a remote top secret air force base, (Area 7). Things go off track when an air force general takes control of the base and the soldiers inside mutiny. Scarecrow and his team of Marines must keep the president alive while fighting off multiple enemy forces . . .
I read that one of the author's favourite movies is Die Hard and it is sort of like that. It has elements of the movie Speed as well, in that if the presidents heart stops, then multiple nuclear warheads placed strategically around the US will explode simultaneously.
I'm not giving any spoilers as this is all mentioned right at the start of the novel. The rest of the time is spent with Scarecrow and his team fending off attackers from all sides, and dispatching them in ingenious ways.
== My Thoughts ==
You don't really need to read the first novel in this series to get into this. There isn't much in the way of character development. The author has kept the same elements of the first novel, Icestation and just juggled things around like changing the location from a remote ice station to a remote airbase and enemies. The only difference is that this time the action has been notched up an octave and is more intense and over the top.
I enjoyed it while I was reading it. However, thinking about it now, the plot has a few major potholes. It is weaker when compared to Icestation. It is too elaborate especially the bit to do with the nuclear warheads. The author still manages to throw in enough twists and new enemies as the novel goes along, to keep you distracted.
The first part of the novel sets up the scene and characters, but there is tons of action once it starts. The main enemy Scarecrow and his friends have to face are about 50 or so crack air force commandos, but several other rogue and unexpected foes, make an appearance to ruin their day. This includes agents from other countries and even animals. Being an air base, there are advanced aircraft lying around along with various weapons for the good guys to play with.
I would say hundreds of baddies are killed by the end. One seems to be knocked off every few paragraphs and after a while I lost count. I liked the complex and long action sequences. My favourite one is when both the good and bad guys are racing through a maze-like series of canyons with helicopters. The kinds of stunts they do are something you would expect to see in an action movie and not in real life. That is fine with me. I didn't think it went too overboard. Apart from one section where the hero, Scarecrow manages to fly into space. It reminded me of the movie Moonraker, one of the James Bond movies. The way the author describes it and the way he actually gets there, it doesn't seem implausible, but it still didn't feel like it fitted into the rest of the story well.
Saying all that,I prefer escapist type novels which this is.
The writing style can be a bit simplistic at times. The author likes using words like suddenly, huge and gigantic a lot. In this case, they make the action sequences flow more naturally.
== Audio Narration ==
The audio book version is produced by Balinda Audio and the guy reading it is Sean Mangan. I'm not sure about his accent. I think it is American. He does have quite a deep voice and he doesn't add much colour / variety to the different characters voices and story, by changing his tone or inflection when speaking. The only reason I kept listening to him was because I enjoyed the novel and I could ignore his annoying voice. I don't manage to do that normally if I don't like the voice of the narrator.
The runtime of this is just under 12 hours (716 mins to be precise).
== Summary and recommendation ==
I have listened to this multiple times. Even though some people may consider it stupid, silly and the plot may be over the top, I still have found it fun, while listening to it. It keeps my attention all the way through, and I am never bored. I therefore, give it 4 stars. Not as good as Icestation, but still worth reading, if you like some light-hearted entertainment.