Book Review - Hell Island by Matthew Reilly
OK... I know this is labeled a "Quick Read" (all of 115 pages and large font setting) for an Australian government program. As such, you wouldn't find something like this on the shelves of Borders. As such, Matthew Reilly's Hell Island has to be kept in context. There's only so much you can do in 115 pages when you're writing an action thriller. And since Reilly writes seat-of-the-pants non-stop movement into his novels to begin with, you can pretty much figure that Hell Island jumps right to the "final showdown". And less than an hour after starting it, you're done. But I really can't get over the italicized action words and sound effects liberally added to nearly every paragraph. It makes the book read like a Batman and Robin episode with the sound effect words spiraling up on the screen.
The storyline is basic... Captain Shane Schofield (aka "Scarecrow") leads a team of Marines on a secret mission to a remote island in the Pacific. There are also teams of Navy SEALs, Army 82nd Airborne Division, and Delta squads. The goal is to drop onto the island and a deserted aircraft carrier, and see why the ship and a prior rescue crew went missing. Shortly after landing, they quickly find out why... a genetically modified squad of gorilla soldiers have taken over the area, and they are programmed to stop at nothing in order to kill who they perceive as enemies. Outnumbered and outgunned, Scarecrow's group has to outthink the creatures in order to survive to make it back to safety... wherever that might be on the island.
This whole book would comprise about 15 minutes of a movie scene, so I don't expect much background, character development, or anything else for that matter. For a single day commute on the bus, it's fine. But the whole writing style bugged me the entire time. Phrases like "a black man-sized *creature* came swooping" and "Sanchez *had* to look for himself" (where the *words* are italicized) exist all over the place. I'm sure it's supposed to give a breathless, breakneck pace and feel to the story. Instead, I felt it turned the book into an adolescent young adult book, with the emphasis on "young". I think the book would have read much better just by eliminating that gimmick and letting the story flow and pace on its own...