3 out of 4 stars
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Just Out of Curiosity is a fiction novel that packs a punch. Making each of the 140 pages count, author John D. King presents a story of international intrigue, combining science, politics, action, and plenty of imagination.
Set in the year 1994, Robert Novaro is a doctoral student at the University of South Texas. Having recently completed work on a breakthrough method for separating isotopes, Novaro meets up with his advisor, who has been working on applying the research to the enrichment of uranium. As the mentor is suddenly stricken by a heart attack, Novaro makes off with his folder full of highly classified information. Now on the FBI's radar, Novaro must be wary of whom he places his trust. The top secret intel is drawing a lot of attention from various sources who would seek to use the valuable technology for whatever gain they see fit.
The book gets off to a running start and doesn’t slow. This works both for and against it. While there’s no shortage of development, there’s also not a lot of time spent building anticipation or reeling in the reader. I found the storyline to be interesting and the author's research to be thorough. I thought the author did a nice job of not including unnecessary information or characters. The writing has a nice flow and the author clearly knows how to put a thesaurus to good use. Another thing I found refreshing was the primary character, Bob, who is not especially likeable. I found him egotistical, sneaky, and sexist. I feel like the use of a moderately disagreeable protagonist added a welcomed depth to the plot.
Although there is no shortage of surprises in this book, I believe more could have been done to further the shock value. I also noticed the name Rita was used as the name for both Bob's mother and his love interest in South America. With so few characters in such a short novel, this minor occurrence stuck out like a sore thumb. Additionally, I would have preferred for fictitious characters to be used in place of well-known public figures such as Janet Reno and Bill Clinton. I found the usage of real political individuals to be contradictory to the imagined University in Texas.
The book was well-edited, although I did stumble across some unnatural sentence structures and minor grammatical errors. The book was not boring, but it did fail to “wow” me. The author’s creativity is abundant and simply needs a little refinement. I have rated this book 3 out of 4 stars, feeling a 2.5 rating would be most appropriate if it were an option.
Just Out of Curiosity
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