The Plague Forge by Jason M. Hough
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“The hunt is on for the mysterious keys left by the alien Builders. While Skyler’s team of immune scavengers scatters around the disease-ravaged globe in search of the artifacts, Skyler himself finds much more than he expected in the African desert, where he stumbles upon surprising Builder relics—and thousands of bloodthirsty subhumans. From the slums and fortresses of Darwin to the jungles of Brazil and beyond, Skyler and company are in for a wild ride, jam-packed with daunting challenges, run-and-gun adventure, and unexpected betrayals—all in a race against time to finally answer the great questions that have plagued humanity for decades: Who are the Builders, and what do they want with Earth?”
It seems to me that as this trilogy has gone on, the author has turned his focus almost completely to action. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in fact, I really enjoyed the fast pace and nearly non-stop action of this novel. There are certain points, though, at which the action either gets so frantic that it’s hard to follow, or the constant stream of things happening starts to bog down the narrative. I know, you wouldn’t think that action could cause a story to drag, but it occasionally does. The points at which things slow down temporarily provides some relief.
Part of the problem comes from the lengthy descriptions of the Builder structures that Skyler and company are investigating. While Hough has done an outstanding job at creating weird places that are obviously alien, I think he takes it a little too far. One of the places that Skyler visits actually changes its configuration fairly often, making it necessary to devote way too much page space to letting the reader know where the door has wandered off to this time.
That being said, I still found this book to be a fun read. All that action provides readers with plenty of neat alien technology and things blowing up and battles being fought. There’s a definite sense of urgency as the timeline of the Builder events draws to a conclusion. The characters are already well-established, so they’re free to throw themselves into the action without wasting a single second. It’s a big budget adventure film in print form, and if you take it for what it is, it’s bound to satisfy.
Any concluding volume of a series has a huge job to do: it has to wrap up all the action and plot development that has gone before and do so in a logical manner; it has to bring some closure to the characters and their arcs; and it has to answer at least a majority of the questions raised in the story. If you think about it, that’s a lot to get accomplished. And while The Plague Forge does hit these highlights, it didn’t do quite as good a job as it could have. It is, however, still a great book (and series) to get reluctant readers into science fiction.
Series: The Dire Earth Cycle
Publisher: Del Rey
Page Count: 448
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Read an excerpt