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Ian’s Review of the New ‘Predator Turnabout’ Novel!

April 20th, 2008

Steve Perry and the Dark Horse team have unleashed a new Predator based novel titled ‘Predator Turnabout’ and before you dive in and find out if it’s worth the read, our dear friend Ian has sacrificed his life and limb to bring you this review. Not sure what motivates Ian to send us in these periodic reviews of his (it seems to be a 1 or 2-times-a-year type of thing), but I sure wish he’d send these in more often!


Take it away Ian…

Over the years, Dark Horse have served the Alien and Predator community admirably. Their creative team were responsible for the original “Alien vs. Predator” Graphic novel, and they have produced many varied and entertaining comic-based stories featuring our fave nasties.

Some of the comics were adapted into novels published by other companies, but for the last 2 years, Dark Horse Books have been publishing their own new Predator stories. “Forever Midnight” in May 2006, “Flesh and Blood” in September 2007 and now “Turnabout” in March 2008.

“Forever Midnight” – while entertaining , had way to much behind-the-scenes exposition on Predator behaviour and family life – including the suggestion that Predators switched back-and-forth between sexes (hated that – really turned me off the book). “Flesh and Blood” was much better, but again, a little too much discourse between the Predators plus it ended way too quickly for my tastes. This time round they have got it right.

This latest book would make a great movie (Predator 3 anyone?) It shows how to properly handle a Predator vs. human conflict set in current times (most people know my opinion of AVP and particularly AVP-R!) Set in the Alaskan wilderness, we have a mixture of bears (not Pooh), a ranger (lone but without Tonto), a group of poachers (after the supposed furry-derived version of Viagra) and a woman who wants to see the place her Brother died (and gets way more than she expected). Oh – there are also some Predators.

Steve Perry is obviously an accomplished writer. That much is apparent even without the “New York Times best-selling author” plaudit that is boldly stamped on the front cover. He builds his characterisations beautifully, constantly expanding on them and keeping the reader truly interested in what happens to every individual described. You WANT the bad guys to get it, you WANT the good guys to win, you WANT justice to be done. Always a good sign when you nod in agreement at a well thought out paragraph or plot-twist. The confusion and disbelief he allows to build between the various players is expertly handled. Mr. Perry never forgets who knows what, allowing every character to form their own conclusions about what is going on at any moment.

He takes great care in describing locations and situations, letting you easily visualise the setting, the risks, the challenges – the REALITY of what people would face therein. You FEEL for the personalities involved (good or bad) and can understand the emotions, frustrations and desires of all – without the need for it being stuck front-and-centre-and-obvious on your TV screen. The man tells a damn good story.

The Predators are not ‘humanised’ by having them speak to one another or simplified by giving detailed explanations of what they are doing. The reader is left to draw their own conclusions in the same way that the 2 Predator movies allowed awe and imagination to run riot. The descriptions of killings are sufficient for the intended audience without being unnecessarily gory…

“His voice was cut off by the sudden explosion of light and sound that ripped through the dark, that slammed into his chest. He screamed, threw his arms in the air as the weird fire ate into him – through him – knocking him back and down – “

The whole ride leaves you feeling that this was a more-than-justifiable use of a few bucks from your hobby budget.

I had a few minor quibbles – none of which should put ANYONE off purchasing. There are a couple of cases where the author repeats himself in succeeding chapters, and a few spelling errors that would have befitted from better proof-reading (send me a preview copy next time :o) ) Also, the cover painting is great (REALLY!), but I wish they would get away from always using the AVP armour and face designs. I’d love to see an original OR an adaptation of the P1 or P2. Maybe Dark Horse feels the market only wants the AVP-style now? If so, I have news for them, there are plenty of us that don’t want to be this limited. I’m one of those that has been spoiled by the vivid imaginations and genius sculpting abilities of the Garage Kit market.

I guess my only real criticism is that the author has an unfortunate fixation on guns – or assumes we do. Way too much detail – detail that pulled me out of the “fantasy zone” and made me raise my eyebrows. I would have thought it sufficient to stop at naming or with a short description. I don’t need to know the exact caliber or what scope it has or what it had for breakfast. Maybe it’s me being English but I do NOT have the fascination with handguns that North Americans are purported to have (my apologies to those of you that don’t). The author even credits the source of his info with pride in the “acknowledgements” section. Personally, I couldn’t care less about the detail – just tell me it’s a gun or a rifle (or in the case of the Chey-Tac a basic description) and that will do – the rest just seems showy and completely unnecessary unless it’s a write-up in the latest copy of “Survivalist nutballs monthly”.

Chapters 25-30 (the last 30 pages / the “final scenes”) could not have been better written – a superb piece of paced storytelling – great twists, plenty of irony and suspense, and even humour – dark but perfectly placed humour. Impressed as I was, I hated the fact that the book had ended. I hope that we get a direct sequel to this story – the ‘characters’ that survive deserve another novel (or that movie – hint hint!)

Put simply, this is a great read that I highly recommend above any other Predator novel so far published by anyone. For the first time, I own a Predator paperback that I will quickly read again. Having just put this one down I now eagerly await the release of the 4th novel “South China Sea” in August 2008. However – Jeff VanderMeer – you have a TOUGH act to follow.

It’s a shame that the wait between novels is so long. It only takes a few hours to read the 250 (on average) pages, and I read this book in 3 evenings. Too long a wait for too short a payback. I’d easily accommodate one of these a month – but then I’m greedy and always hungry for Predator-related goodies in ANY form.

Thanks to Dark Horse and Steve Perry for a thoroughly enjoyable read and a great way to spend some down time. Keep up the good work one-and-all, and I hope you never lose your licensing rights – you do us proud. Cheers guys.

Ian / “Heavy Metal Spike”, April 2008.

PS: His name was David Douglas not Douglas ‘somebody’ (trivia for page 199 when you read it).

Post a Comment!

 

9 Responses to “ Ian’s Review of the New ‘Predator Turnabout’ Novel! ”

  1. Faken Says:

    Well done Ian, awesome review and thanks so much for taking the time to put it all together. You need to get off your broken arse and do more of these!

  2. Jeff VanderMeer Says:

    THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR COMETH…AND HE WILL WRECK YOUR NIGHTMARES, PUNY HUMAN…

    er, or, I just hope you like it.

    I think Perry’s is very good–I haven’t read it all because I’ve been traveling a lot, but I got a chance to dig into it at least.

    JV

  3. Al DeGregorio Says:

    Very nice job Ian, I would love to see more reviews like this…=)

  4. Mark Brown Says:

    Thanks Ian,
    Great Reviews on the novels! Its nice to know that someone
    eles reads the Predator novels too. I love the cover art of these paperbacks. They’re just not enough of these cool books. Hope to see more of your reviews!
    Thanks so Much.
    Sincerely,
    Mark Brown

  5. Monsterjones Says:

    I love Steve Perry’s Predator novels and look forward to this one…great review!!
    About time for another good read….

  6. Heavy Metal Spike Says:

    Thanks folks – appreciate the kudos. I’ll be sure to review the next one when it’s out. Got a Narin “Death Warrior” kit review up next.

    Ian / “Heavy Metal Spike”

  7. Steve Perry Says:

    Nice review. Thanks for taking the time.

    Oh, yeah, I knew for whom the tree was named — but I didn’t want my character to come across as that educated. My wife worked some years for a paper company that harvests Douglas Fir …

    The gun stuff plays better in the US, and since the guys hauling the hardware are gun nuts — a sniper and a poacher, I thought the detail was warranted, but I might have gone a bit long. (The gun nuts didn’t think so, from my emails …)

  8. Heavy Metal Spike Says:

    Well THAT was a pleasant surprise – thanks for the feedback Steve.

    I just checked back here by accident and it never occurred to me that the original author would read my review or take the time to comment on it.

    I sincerely (nah – read “SINCERELY”!) hope you do another one Steve – writing is an art that people seemingly take for granted these days – but there are those of us that recognise talent when we see (read) it!

    Ian / “Heavy Metal Spike”

  9. Heavy Metal Spike Says:

    And to Jeff – our wait is nearly over – having read the first few pages via the Dark Horse preview I am really looking forward to the rest of the book.

    Watch this space for the review ;o)

    Ian / “Heavy Metal Spike”

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