14 September 2012

Review: The 13: Fall by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed

Prologue: It is July 4, 2025, the Chinese are amassing an army in Mexico, and every major West Coast city from San Diego to Seattle has been devastated by a nuclear strike. The action then moves back in time by two weeks, to President Calvin Grant. Grant receives a message from a man calling himself The Prophet, claiming to speak on behalf of The Lord Most High. The message claims that God is going to punish the world for its evil, starting in fourteen days.

CIA agent Jonathan Keene is teamed with FBI agent Megan Taylor and ex-special forces man Bozwell Hamilton to find and stop The Prophet. Keene’s immediate reaction is that The Prophet is a terrorist, but Hamilton and Grant are strong Christians, and they aren’t so sure… Well, we already know from the prologue that they don’t succeed. What they do find is a bigger plot that could destroy America, and they don’t know where The Prophet fits in.

For the most part, The 13: Fall is a sound thriller with a good level of suspense and an interesting cast of characters who are introduced appropriately. But there are occasional literary mishaps, like unnecessary background descriptions, an overuse of exclamation marks, and scenes that felt as if it came straight from an old action movie (specifically The Fugitive and Matrix). And despite the fact that it is set in 2025, there don't appear to have been any major leaps in technology (well, all the police have smartphones, but this technology already exists). I suppose this is only thirteen years in the future, but the last thirteen years have brought in-home broadband, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and Youtube, all of which have changed the way we communicate. On this basis, if it was so important that everyone heard The Prophet's message, why did he send it in a private email? Why not on Youtube or the 2025 equivalent?

There are also times when Americans make us foreigners laugh. At one point, The 13: Fall comments that the price of oil is rising ‘astronomically’, and the price of gas (petrol) is expected to soon reach $10 per gallon. Wow. That’s my irony font, in case you couldn’t tell. Petrol already costs $7.00/gallon here in New Zealand, and a quick online search found it’s currently $8.40/gallon in London and Sydney. If petrol only went up by $1.60/gallon in the next thirteen years, I think they’d all be thrilled. (All prices in US dollars. And, yes, I know that petrol is currently only around $4.00/gallon in the US. But only because I looked it up.)

Despite the faults, this was an enjoyable book. It was fast-paced, with an interesting plot and a group of characters that I, as a reader, wanted to succeed. The 13: Fall is more overtly Christian than a lot of contemporary Christian fiction, but it is a sound thriller, and it will be interesting to read future books in the series.

Thanks to Barbour and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

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