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This is the second book in the incredible Scarecrow saga. In this instalment we meet some new Marines that have been added to Scarecrows crack special ops team as well as learning more about the returning characters. From securing a discovery in Ice Station, Lieutenant Shane' Scarecrow' Schofield and his loyal comrades now have the task of protecting the President of the United States from a crazed former Armed Forces servant. The President soon learns that there is no better man in a disaster situation than the Scarecrow. In this novel, Reilly further develops the relationship between Schofield and his team, letting us learn more about the intimate side the novels hero. For example, we learn more of Schofield's feelings for Libby Gant, we learn of the feelings of Book II who lost his father in the Ice Station mission. I personally prefer Ice Station but Area 7 is full of the fast paced, action packed adventure that makes Matthew Reilly such an inspiring writer. Once you pick this book up it is very difficult to put down.
There are some things in life that are so daft they are fun. The comedies of Adam Sandler, or the actionfest that was Die Hard 4.0. Neither of these things can be said to be high art, but for unashamed fun, they work. I sometimes think that the makers of such films have asked a group of 12 year old boys to write the script. More explosions or poop jokes you will hear them cry. Never in my life would I have believed that there is literature that is a vacuous as these films. Matthew Reilly set out to prove me wrong with Area 7 probably the daftest book that I have ever read.
Schofield, codenamed Scarecrow, is a marine who has been assigned to guard the President whilst on a covert visit to an underground airbase called Area 7. Inside the base is a secret lab that has been used by the US government to create a vaccine for a new strain of biological warfare. Scarecrow is only made aware of this when the President and his bodyguards are locked in the base and attacked by 50 rogue special ops soldiers led by a man that the government thought was dead. It seems that the President has a chip inserted by his heart that is linked to 14 nuclear bombs hidden around the USA. The dirty special ops personal are hell bent on killing the President and triggering the apocalypse. Can Scarecrow defend the Commander and Chief again 50 marines, bears, helicopters, planes, boats, racists South Africans, diabolical Chinese, and a group of psychotic prisoners?
As you can tell from the last sentence of my synopsis Area 7 is packed to the gills with action. There are so many explosions and fights on offer it almost seems like a child has written the book. Scarecrow and his allies go from fighting one set of soldiers to combat against bears or prisoners. The pace is absolutely relentless with the book taking the form of confrontations instead of chapters. The structure of the book reminds me of the type of short story I used to write in school where I would have 10 characters and slowly kill them off. Thankfully, I have moved on since those days, Reilly obviously has not.
The story is all over the place, but this is nothing compared to the writing style. Reilly has the most basic style I have read in an adult book and it reminded me of teen fiction. There were lots of very short sections all ending in cliff hangers. What was even worse was his abuse of the explanation mark. Throughout the book he would emphasise how exciting something was by repeating it like this; and then there was an explosion. Yes an explosion! It was cute to begin with, but by page 400 I just wanted to get the guy and show him how to create excitement without!!!!!!!!!!
To add to the tally of woes on offer the characters are very one dimensional and comically bad at times. Scarecrow himself is probably the deepest on offer, but even he would break your neck if you tried to dive into him. Scarecrow is a man of action and little else; this is more than we learn about the various members of his crew. Reilly basically gives them call signs that will allow the reader to make up their own minds e.g. Brainiac.
With all these flaws how come I liked Area 7? Its simple really; the book is fun. If you take off your thinking head and put on your pleasure receptacle you are in for one hell of a ride. I loved the overblown action that had no basis in reality. There were so many things going on that it was a joy. Scenes included one where a character ejects from an aeroplane and shoots down a helicopter whilst in the ejector seat madness. If you were to look at the quality of writing, or wonder if these events could happen, you may go mad. Instead enjoy it for what it is mindless fun.
I have no doubt that many people will hate Area 7. It is simplistic, poorly written, overblown and ridiculous. Throughout I felt that I was reading a teenage fiction book, rather than one written for adults. However, it is this simplistic nature that I found charming. Reilly never set out to write anything more than a crazy action thriller, and he succeeded. In the end I enjoyed the book enough to make it four stars, however, the use of!!!!!!!! became so irritating that I have to mark it a 3.
Author: Matthew Reilly
Price: amazon uk - £4.99
play.com - £4.99
From the bestselling author of Ice Station, another dizzyingly fast-paced adventure thriller featuring Shane Schofield. It is America's most secret base, hidden deep in the Utah desert, an Air Force installation known only as Area 7. And today it has a visitor: the President of the United States. He has come to inspect Area 7, to examine its secrets for himself. But he's going to get more than he bargained for on this trip. Because hostile forces are waiting inside...Among the President's helicopter crew, however, is a young Marine. He is quiet, enigmatic, and he hides his eyes behind a pair of silver sunglasses. His name is Schofield. Call-sign: Scarecrow. Rumour has it, he's a good man in a storm. Judging by what the President has just walked into, he'd better be...