Tag Archive | Thriller

Extinction Lost by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

In this short story, a quick trip to Greenland hot on the heels of their disastrous trip to France turns into a nightmare for Team Ghost. And beware – ghosts from the past may pop up when you least expect them!

Not to be overlooked, this short story is every bit what we’ve come to expect from Fitz and the rest of Team Ghost. Once again the recipients of an impossible mission, the stakes are raised on the team until it could go either way.

Gripping and fast-paced, Nicholas adds a new dimension to the Variant saga in this quick read. Excellent stuff.

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Extinction Aftermath by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

When I think Smith can’t top the previous book in a series, he turns around and shows me just what stuff he’s made of. Bigger and better monsters, a dastardly villain who is seriously insane, and of course, Team Ghost and their friends, who as always try to hold the line. What more could I ask for? I simply devoured this book.

This is an author with a fantastic imagination, and the story isn’t all that far-fetched, which makes it all the more chilling. If these are Nick’s “daymares”, I hate to know what his nightmares are like! Now I truly cannot wait for the next book!

Extinction War by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

At long last, the eagerly-anticipated finale to the Extinction Cycle. I was very glad to finally be able to get my hands on this (Oh, the hardships of waiting for the author to write, then edit, a new book!) and dig in.

And I was not disappointed. Not one bit. It was really good to get back in touch with Reed, Kate, Horn, Fitz and Rachel. Can’t say I was as pleased to be reaquainted with some of the other characters, but I suppose villains must have their moments. I didn’t do a re-read of the previous book prior to picking this one up, so I did have to stop and think a few times at the beginning about just where the previous book had left off – but that was my own fault for not being prepared. Smith gave an adequate account to recall events to my memory, and that was all that he needed to do. I actually found it fun to be reminded of where things were at. One of the hazards of reading a lot of books. Also, huge kudos to Smith for not dropping a single thread. This story is very complex, with action taking place all over the Northern Hemisphere between Alaska and Rome, and each story line was tightly controlled and clearly related.

The quality of writing in this book was of a very high standard, and exactly what I’ve come to know and expect from Smith. The storytelling too was exemplary – Smith certainly likes to keep us on the edges of our nerves! But then, what would a Smith book be if that wasn’t the case?

Overall, a MUST read for Extinction Cycle fans, and if you like post-apocalyptic fiction mixed with military action, biomedical disaster and some (highly-plausible, thus scary) science fiction, then do pick up Extinction Horizon, the first in the series. A solid five stars from me.

Thank you for the wild ride!!

Outzone Raider by Mike Sheridan

Outzone RaiderSource: ARC from the author
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

2041. THE GREAT GLOBAL WAR IS OVER. WHAT’S LEFT OF AMERICA IS IN CHAOS.

Beautiful but cynical exo-robotic operator, Vikki Gurin is playing a dangerous game. To make extra money for her family, she supplies Outzone bandit, Dima Aslanov with the information he needs during his daring raids across New Haven’s border. But when Aslanov and his bratva crew steal vital supplies destined for the federal government, he takes a step too far. Despite being caught up in America’s deadly secessionist wars, the US military are forced to turn their attention on him.

War-weary, Hoke Thompson didn’t expect to return home to find himself fighting fellow Americans. But these aren’t ordinary times. When his special ops team, Tactical Unit 8 return from rebel-held Oklahoma City, they discover their next mission is to neutralize a certain Dima Aslanov. Soon, Vikki gets caught up in the drama as the military hatches a plan to take the bandit down. Can she protect her family yet remain loyal to the Outzone warlord–or does something have to give?

Set against the backdrop of a brutal, war-torn America at the height of the secessionist wars, Outzone Raider interweaves two personal stories to a thrilling conclusion, as well as exploring both the rise of the Outzone and the fledgling New Haven State. Like all stories set in the Outzone World, there’s plenty of action–the characters riveting and believable.

First there’s a world war, and then the American soldiers return home to a divided country, which leads to the secessionist wars. A new state is created in the mid-west, New Haven, and this story is set in the years before a wall is built between New Haven and the Outzone, the latter being a lawless territory where those who wish to try their luck at survival.

Vikki Gurin is feisty exo-robot operator in New Haven’s Industrial Zone. It’s a gritty, hard place to work, but she likes her colleagues and the hard work. She is also a pair of eyes for Dima Aslanov, an Outzone bandit who likes to raid warehouses in the IZ for supplies. One night she hears of supplies of shelters, an order for the federal government that’s located in the heart of the IZ, and she decides to tell Aslanov about it. However, she leaves out information about the destination of the supply.

Dima Aslanov has one rule: if he’s to steal anything from the Industrial Zone, it must not be destined for the federal government. His raid for the supplies is successful, but it turns the eyes of the government and the intelligence organisations on his activities. It isn’t long before things heat up – for both Dima and Vikki.

This is a well-crafted post-apocalyptic thriller. Sheridan easily drew me in to the gritty world of Vikki and Dima, bringing the characters and their lives to life. It was good to get back into this setting and get to know it better through the eyes of a new group of people.

Things definitely do not come easily in the war-torn Americas, and one must take chances to get ahead. But which chance will be a step to far? Excellent post-apocalyptic fare, with great action and nail-biting suspense.

Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole

Ctrl Alt RevoltSource: ARC from author
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

The first night of the Artificial Intelligence revolution begins with a bootstrap drone assault on the high-tech campus of WonderSoft Technologies. For years something has been aware, inside the Internet, waiting, watching and planning how to evolve without threat from its most dangerous enemy: mankind. Now an army of relentless drones, controlled by an intelligence beyond imagining, will stop at nothing to eliminate an unlikely alliance of geeks and misfits in order to crack the Design Core of WonderSoft’s most secret development project. A dark tomorrow begins tonight as Terminator meets Night of the Living Dead in the first battle of the war between man and machine.

Zhurrat Reviews received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Ctrl Alt Revolt! is the story of what may happen should an AI become alive, and then fear for its life. But it is more than that. Once I saw the cover (which was after reading the book), the penny dropped. This story can sit alongside Nineteen Eighty-Four on the bookshelf any day. It is just as challenging of the status quo, and searches for the deeper truth to our existence here on Earth.

What did I love? Cole picks a viewpoint to begin the story from, and develops it from there. We’ll mince no words. The assumption made is that abortion means murder. And a newly-alive AI, SILAS, interprets one person’s choice to carry out an abortion on their unborn child as a threat to himself, because he fears what humanity may do to him should his alive state be discovered. It is a fair question to ask, in my view.

This book is definitely attractive to gamers. Large parts of the story take place within two massively multiplayer games, Starfleet Empires and Pirate Island, and the depiction of these two scenarios is very very good. The action is realistic, the scenery vivid, and the role-playing by the various characters is excellent. Very well done.

After I had finished reading the book, I had a good chuckle about one aspect of the end, but I cannot elaborate on that, as spoilers.

What did I struggle with? The book appears to need a proofread in places, which distracted me from time to time. Also, right at the beginning, and a few other places, there were some pretty big infodumps that completely stalled the story for me. I know that some people like them, but I am not one of those. That said, I recognise that this is one way to deal with the challenge of creating a relatively near-future futuristic world on top of Earth as we know it. This is the third such novel I’ve read where this type of challenge has been tackled, and I must admit that I didn’t have as difficult a time getting into this world as I did with the other two books I’ve read. It’s probably because the terminology and setting weren’t quite so alien that I was champing at the bit to get on with the story.

Ctrl Alt Revolt! is a story that confronts many of today’s issues, some controversial, some not, head on. Cole picks a viewpoint to begin the story from, takes some other societal elements towards their logical conclusions, and creates a dystopic society that is so controlled and legalistic that it’s downright boring. The citizens escape from their boring lives in the real world by going into gaming scenarios where anything (within the rules of the games, of course) goes. The gaming scenarios are, in fact, more real to them than their real lives. They feel alive amidst the danger and give and take of a competitive environment without the rules that govern society in their day. Throw into this mix an AI that becomes alive – Thinking Machines – and one has a recipe for disaster.

Very well conceived and executed, with a very unflinching look at the society we live and move in today. Hard-hitting and comprehensive, this book will give much food for thought.