War World by Rod C. Spence (book review).

February 6, 2018 | By | Reply More

Rod C. Spence is an Emmy-nominated television and film editor, producer, screenwriter and director who has decided to branch out as an author. War Worlds is his debut novel in what looks to be a trilogy. Its aimed at the young adult market and based on this first book could be described as a SciFi, Fantasy mashup.

TerraGen is the world’s leading company when it comes to biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. This makes it the target for corporate espionage from their main corporate rival Meta Universal Genetics. There’s also a lot of interest from the U.S. Government who want to stop any foreign governments from acquiring technology that could be weaponised.
The story revolves around a group of six teenagers who happen to be the children of the most distinguished scientists employed by TerraGen Universal Corporation. Actually, one of the teenagers – Alexander Leach Jr. – is the son of the man who runs TerraGen. He’s also the Quarterback in the local school’s American football team. He’s big, athletic and the school bully. Thankfully he’s not the main character as that position is taken by Jeremy Austin.
Jeremy might not be regarded as smart as the others nor as big as Alex, but he is the football team’s wide receiver, so he can run when required. This proves to be a useful trait later on. Making up the rest of the six teenagers is Patrick the computer hacker, Leo the nerd and the two girls Marissa and Selene.
There is a Prologue before the main story gets underway where Jeremy and Patrick break into TerraGen’s secret laboratory to check out some of Leo’s boasts about his father’s work. It doesn’t end well but gives us a good introduction to two of the main characters and the world they live in. Once we get to the main sorry we learn that all the kid’s parents are absent. The cover story from TerraGen is that they are on an expedition to a remote island. This story is later changed to say that there has been a catastrophic nuclear accident on the island which has killed the entire expedition team.
Patrick the computer hacker doing what he does uncovers the truth, that the expedition was to another world using a portal at the TerraGen facility. One thing is true though, contact has been lost with the expedition. The kids aided by rouge US Government agents, TerraGen traitors and Meta Universal Genetics mount a rescue mission.
Once this rescue mission travels through the portal the story quickly moves from science fiction to fantasy. There’s gnomes, muscly men with swords, wizards, elf’s and lots of evil creatures. Don’t forget the magic as where there’s wizards then there’s going to be magic.
You might be getting the feeling that I didn’t enjoy reading this and you would be right. The problem is that there are quite a few inconsistencies in the plot and stereotype characters aplenty. For example, Alex the school bully always talks with a sneer even when he’s terrified and faced with imminent death. I think all of the teens say at one point or another “it’s not fair”. None of the adults who feature in the story are nice people.
For plot inconsistences my favourite was when Jeremy woke from a three-and-a-half-month coma and went walking in the neighbourhood by himself at night in the snow. The following day he has the strength to run away from some people who are following him. That must be one of the best recoveries from being bed ridden for over three months ever.
The portal at the TerraGen facility can be used to send and receive people from remote locations. For reasons which aren’t explained the destination portal the kids end up at on the remote planet can only receive. They have 30 days to travel to another one to make the journey home again. The last bit of knit picking is that the initial aliens we meet are able to move exceptionally fast. A blur is how it is described at one point. However, they don’t seem to make use of this ability at key moments and you do wonder why. Did they forget?
I think part of the problem is that the plot has been simplified to make sure that the YA audience can understand it. There has also been a conscious decision to include as many things appealing to a youth audience as possible. Computer hacking – check. Evil corporations – check. Wormholes – check. Sword & Sorcery – check. Teenage angst – check. I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea by now.
In this first book of the trilogy the two girls (Marissa and Selene) are simply there to slow the boys up and get in the way. Neither of them have any depth of character or contribute anything to the on-going story. I’m wondering if the book has been written with a male chauvinist audience in mind. I can’t think of any other scenario where you would compare Jeremy’s poor throwing skills to a five year old girl. It’s actually worse than that as the five year old girl in question also has a medical condition but I’m hoping one of the editors picks up on it and makes suitable changes before the book gets published.
At the end of day none of the teen cha

Rod C. Spence is an Emmy-nominated television and film editor, producer, screenwriter and director who has decided to branch out as an author. ‘War Worlds’ is his debut novel in what looks to be a trilogy. Its aimed at the young adult market and based on this first book could be described as a SciFi/fantasy mash-up.

TerraGen is the world’s leading company when it comes to biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. This makes it the target for corporate espionage from their main corporate rival Meta Universal Genetics. There’s also a lot of interest from the US Government who want to stop any foreign governments from acquiring technology that could be weaponised.

The story revolves around a group of six teenagers who happen to be the children of the most distinguished scientists employed by TerraGen Universal Corporation. Actually, one of the teenagers, Alexander Leach Jr., is the son of the man who runs TerraGen. He’s also the quarterback in the local school’s American football team. He’s big, athletic and the school bully. Thankfully, he’s not the main character as that position is taken by Jeremy Austin.

Jeremy might not be regarded as smart as the others nor as big as Alex, but he is the football team’s wide receiver, so he can run when required. This proves to be a useful trait later on. Making up the rest of the six teenagers is Patrick the computer hacker, Leo the nerd and the two girls, Marissa and Selene.

There is a prologue before the main story gets underway where Jeremy and Patrick break into TerraGen’s secret laboratory to check out some of Leo’s boasts about his father’s work. It doesn’t end well but gives us a good introduction to two of the main characters and the world they live in. Once we get to the main sorry we learn that all the kid’s parents are absent. The cover story from TerraGen is that they are on an expedition to a remote island. This story is later changed to say that there has been a catastrophic nuclear accident on the island which has killed the entire expedition team.

Patrick the computer hacker doing what he does uncovers the truth, that the expedition was to another world using a portal at the TerraGen facility. One thing is true, though, contact has been lost with the expedition. The kids aided by rogue US Government agents, TerraGen traitors and Meta Universal Genetics mount a rescue mission.

Once this rescue mission travels through the portal, the story quickly moves From Science Fiction to fantasy. There’s gnomes, muscly men with swords, wizards, elves and lots of evil creatures. Don’t forget the magic as where there’s wizards then there’s going to be magic.

You might be getting the feeling that I didn’t enjoy reading this and you would be right. The problem is that there are quite a few inconsistencies in the plot and stereotype characters aplenty. For example, Alex the school bully always talks with a sneer even when he’s terrified and faced with imminent death. I think all of the teens say at one point or another, ‘it’s not fair’. None of the adults who feature in the story are nice people.

For plot inconsistencies, my favourite was when Jeremy woke from a three-and-a-half-month coma and went walking in the neighbourhood by himself at night in the snow. The following day he has the strength to run away from some people who are following him. That must be one of the best recoveries from being bed-ridden for over three months ever.

The portal at the TerraGen facility can be used to send and receive people from remote locations. For reasons which aren’t explained, the destination portal the kids end up at on the remote planet can only receive. They have 30 days to travel to another one to make the journey home again. The last bit of nit-picking is that the initial aliens we meet are able to move exceptionally fast. A blur is how it is described at one point. However, they don’t seem to make use of this ability at key moments and you do wonder why. Did they forget

I think part of the problem is that the plot has been simplified to make sure that the YA audience can understand it. There has also been a conscious decision to include as many things appealing to a youth audience as possible. Computer hacking: check. Evil corporations: check. Wormholes: check. Sword & Sorcery: check. Teenage angst: check. I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea by now.

In this first book of the trilogy, the two girls, Marissa and Selene, are simply there to slow the boys up and get in the way. Neither of them have any depth of character or contribute anything to the on-going story. I’m wondering if the book has been written with a male chauvinist audience in mind. I can’t think of any other scenario where you would compare Jeremy’s poor throwing skills to a five year-old girl. It’s actually worse than that as the five year-old girl in question also has a medical condition but I’m hoping one of the editors picks up on it and makes suitable changes before the book gets published.

At the end of day, none of the teen characters are particularly engaging to the point where I want to read the next book. The plot seems a bit formulaic drawing a lot from other stories. The gnome king could easily have come straight out of ‘Lord Of The Rings’. As a whole, it seems to be just a bit too far-fetched.

Andy Whitaker

February 2018

(pub: Gallant Press, Los Angeles, 2017. 355 page book. Hardback: Price: $24.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-9990879-0-9. Paperback: $17.95 (US). ISBN: 978-0-9990879-1-6)

check out website: www.gallantpress.com

 

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Category: Books, MEDIA, Scifi

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About the Author ()

I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties. My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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