Thursday, 2 April 2009

The Unit: Seek and Destroy

You may have noticed that I give out very few bad reviews. There's a reason for that. I tend not to finish books that don't interest me, as I have a limited amount of time available to read. However, it's rare that a book shows as much promise for a good read as this and turns out quite so disappointing. I've not finished it, but I thought I'd write a bit of a review anyway, just to warn those of you out there who have similar tastes to me.

It looked very very interesting, like the sort of fast-paced escapist action I'm fond of at the moment. I managed about fifty pages, before I came to the conclusion that those words on the front cover which so often spell 'poorly written badly developed novel contained within these pages' were completely true in this case. 'Based on the hit CBS series created by David Mamet' it says. I have read one good adaptation of a movie into a book. The first Star Wars book. Now you're going to tell me taht it was a book first. Well, I've never seen the film, and that book was well enough written that it made me think that it might very well be the case. Fantastic book.

Anyway. It's about The Unit, a highly secret group in the US Military. Not entirely original I'm sure you'll agree, but an idea with potential. The blurb sounded very exciting. A bunch of businessmen using merceneries to take over the Congo, and the Unit their only opposition. Unfortunately, the writing is mediocre, with some parts of military terminology over explained, with others left dangling with no explanation that I really don't understand. I know what a SOP is (standard operating procedure), but what on earth is an OA, an ACOG, TA or an SOI? The pages are littered with these and other similar expressions. The author also appears to have fallen into the trap of leaving no dialogue without an explaining tag line, something I admit I used to do, but have since realised is often unnecessary. There's also a little too much telling and not enough showing with regard to personalities of the characters, all of them getting lumped in at once. The writing was, I'm afraid, rather dull. Which is fine in a romance or whatever, but in an action book, you expect action. Like I said, I think the plot itself sounds rather exciting and it could very well get interesting. But there's an equal chance it won't get much more interesting, or that the interestingness will be spoilt by the mediocre writing, and I'm not prepared to spend a fair bit of time reading something that's not all that good when there's much better things to read and my time is limited. Maybe I'll have another bash at it. I'm kinda talking myself into it. I feel a bit mean reviewing it without actually having finished it.

To be fair on the book, it isn't the first I've started and put down from complete lack of interest in the writing style. And it's certainly not as bad as James Patterson's (or someone writing under his name at any rate)'s new series for teenagers: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. The title itself sounds rather dodgy in how interesting it could be. I managed two pages, two whole pages, before the terrible and unrealistic narrative voice of a supposed kid got too much to stand and I was forced to abandon it with much disappointment. I'd been hoping for something as good as the Maximum Ride trilogy (the fourth book does not count, haven't got hold of the fifth yet, but I'm hoping it's better though it would be hard not to improve on the fourth one). I was sadly disappointed.

Anyway, that's kinda just so you know I don't love absolutely every book I read and that my glowing reviews are merited. And kinda because I'm really quite disappointed in this book.

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