Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: "Ghost Country" by Patrick Lee

Ghost Country by Patrick Lee
384 pages

For decades, inexplicable technology has passed into our world through the top secret anomaly called the Breach.

The latest device can punch a hole into the future . . .

What Paige Campbell saw when she opened a door into seventy years from now scared the hell out of her. She and her Tangent colleagues brought their terrible discovery to the President—and were met with a hail of automatic gunfire after leaving the White House. Only Paige survived.
Fearing a terrifying personal destiny revealed to him from the other side of the Breach, Travis Chase abandoned Tangent . . . and Paige Campbell. Now he must rescue her—because Paige knows tomorrow’s world is desolate and dead, a ghost country scattered with the bones of billions. And Doomsday will dawn in just four short months . . . unless they can find the answers buried in the ruins to come.

But once they cross the nightmare border into Ghost Country, they might never find their way back . . .

Even though I named this blog "Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' I love thrillers as well. Combine the two, and it's like the perfect peanut-butter/chocolate combination. So "The Breach," the first book in Patrick Lee's new series, was a real treat for me. I couldn't wait to get my hands on "Ghost Country" and, just like the first book, it didn't take me long to tear my way through Lee's latest offering.

The Good: There's a lot to like about "Ghost Country." Patrick Lee is a writer that knows how to write in a way the evokes powerful visuals. The name "Ghost Country" is a very apt description but it only partly conveys the eerie image of a long abandoned New York, and Lee does a great job of showing us what that would look like. Lee also knows how to write action sequences that have a kind of cinematic feel with lots of explosions and gun battles. It's the sort of take-no-prisoners writing that is made for big-screen adaptations. I can easily see this book as a movie. Lee also handles his 'big-reveal' moments in a way that not only surprise you, but they also hit you with a sense of awe; and sometimes horror. But the real star of "Ghost Country"-- and the series as a whole-- is the advanced technology. It's reminiscent of the dimension-jumping that goes on in the television show "Fringe" without feeling derivative of anything else. It has it's own unique mythology and feel that drives the story. It's not overly complicated but complex enough to keep the reader constantly engaged.

Not Sure: As much as I liked "Ghost Country," it didn't quite have the same payoff for me that "The Breach" did. Though I must admit I had almost unreasonably high expectations after being wowed by the ending of "The Breach." I felt like the first book left off with a pretty good sucker punch and I was really looking forward to seeing the story pick up where it left off. But-- and it's hard not to get too detailed here without offering too many spoilers-- Lee side-steps the conundrums of the last book by using the sleight-of-hand a writer can get away with by using the super-advanced technology featured in the series. The questions I had about The Breach were left dangling on the periphery and I admit to wanting more than I got. "Ghost Country" also deals a lot in "what ifs" and there are vivid images of what the worst-case scenario would look like. There was a sharp contrast between the 'normal' world and the world of 'what if?' and I wanted to see what the journey looked like in the middle. The way Lee writes the story makes perfect sense, but I craved more detail. Though I should mention that the story did follow through at the end with the promise of getting back to the story-line that drove the first book and perhaps get back into the heart of the story I was looking for.

Bottom Line: "Ghost Country" is a worthy successor to "The Breach." It has all the elements from the first including high-energy action and mind-bending technology. And while I might have wanted more detail and back-story, I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series. And the one after that.

4 out of 5 stars.


Jim Haley said...

My wife enjoyed The Breach (she's a long time x-files fan and found it to have a similar vibe) but I had no idea there was a new book in the series. I'll have to let her know. Thanks SQT.

SQT said...

Jim-- I like it too. It is strongly reminiscent of the X-Files, but holds up on its own.

Matt said...

I agree with your review about looking for the same type of payoff as the end of the Breach. I felt like the central theme to the 'cliffhanger' of the Breach was reconciled too quickly and neatly..as if it was rushed. You say you will pick up the next one in the series...are we sure there will be one? This one seemed to have too much 'closure' to it. Would love to hear your thoughts.