Today I am reviewing the soon to be published book RANGER MARTIN and the ALIEN INVASION, by Canadian author Jack Flacco.
This book is a clean kick-butt story of Ranger Martin and three tagalong teenagers, Matty, her brother Jon, and their friend Randy, who fight zombies and aliens in a post-apocalyptic dystopian America. Most citizens of the United States have been converted to zombies and they are now scavenging the land for the “undead” to feed their hunger. At the same time, an alien invasion is going on, and these aliens are doing what they can to convert the “undead” to zombies. A double whammy of bad stuff for Ranger Martin and the teens to deal with before they can reclaim the globe as their home.
This book was written in the young adult genre (ages 11-17) but personally I think the younger end of this group is a much better audience than the older.
Now, on to the pros and cons:
The storyline is realistic and sound and the plotting is good. On nearly every page, all characters, major and minor, are in a jam and have to figure a way to get out. The solutions they come up with are logical and realistic and not once did I think any of their decisions dumb or stupid nor did I roll my eyes and ask myself “Really?”
There is an extraordinary amount of over the top braggodocio, which I knew was intentional by the author. Knowing that this is a young adult novel, all that bravado, instead of being melodramatic, put a smile on my face.
The characterization of both the major and minor characters is great. Right away the author made me care so much about each character that when he killed off the not-so-important minor characters I became upset.
The very bestest, bestest, best part of the whole novel, though, is that there are strong female characters. Granted all but one (Matty) gets killed off but none are cowering lacy dresses who talk nothing but boys and play the “woe-is-me-I’m-such-a-victim” card. They all rise to the challenge and meet it head on. If the author was aiming for greater-than-life female characters that girls could look up to in tough times, I believe he nailed it.
The novel is not just about fighting though. There is a good balance of sequel scenes in which the characters actually think and talk amongst themselves. Backstory is kept at a bare minimum but there are a small number of flashbacks to give the reader a glimpse of how things used to be.
This was a fun, fun, fun read. When I was in middle and high school, many many moons ago, there was nothing like this to read so I was forced to read adult kick-butt books that were really not age appropriate. I’m glad to see this void continues to be filled.
Now for the cons:
I’m not sure if it was intentional or not but there was point of view shifting everywhere, sometimes numerous times during each scene. Some scenes I even had to stop and go back to figure out what exactly is going on and who was speaking. If the author could invest in a good editor who could help him cut that out and hone the focus, I believe the novel would really shine.
Sometimes the over the top bravado did get to me and I had to put it down but then again, I’m no longer a young adult and this genre is not to my taste.
My recommendation? If you have a middle-aged son and/or daughter and you’re looking for a good old fashioned clean, kick-butt story, this would be a good novel for them to read. It goes on sale October 21, 2014.