Greg Rucka – Alpha

Two things that influence my ability to give Alpha a perfectly unbiased review:

1) Greg Rucka is a favorite writer of mine, and has created and written some of my all time favorite characters, such as Tara Chace, Renee Montoya and Kate Kane.

2) I really really irrationally dislike reading books in the present tense. It disorients me and takes adjusting to, and because more often than not a story contains scenes or elements that take place before the ‘now’ of the book, sometimes necessitates a tense switch that just annoys me more.

So there are two conflicting elements here. Eventually Rucka’s ability to tell a gripping complex story won me over, even though I still found myself thrown out of the story by, not just the tense but rather a lot of unnecessary sentence fragments. Yes, it did lend the book a suitable feeling of raised pace and urgency, but none of the Atticus Kodiak or Queen and Country books needed this.

I’m being harsh. I liked the book!

The plot, as intricate and well supported as any Rucka thriller, deals a terror attack on a fictitious version of Disneyland, told through the major viewpoints of the man hired to carry out the attack, and Jad Bell, the Navy SEAL placed in the park to deter it. Oh, and also Athena, Bell’s Deaf teenage daughter.

I can’t talk about the plot without spoilers – and you don’t want to be spoiled for this – but I will say that it is a terrific  thrill ride. The characters were fine, but took a back seat to the structure of the plot, and didn’t come off as especially interesting. The handling of that dialogue that was signed was fantastic, but Athena didn’t seem particularly strongly developed beyond her language. She’s a teenage girl who is interested in a boy and who is sad her parents are divorced. Her father is the Navy SEAL version of John McClane: he’s going through a divorce and he’s sad about it, but distracted by action.

It’s an action book, not a character book. Read it for the action and you won’t be disappointed. But if you really want a top-notch Rucka thriller, go pick up Queen and Country. Trust me.

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