2 out of 4 stars
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Chrome Mountain by Ben Schneider begins as Sonya McCall decides to ditch her lawless biker life in Sacramento. Having realised that a life of crime and a cruel, bone-headed boyfriend, are not what she wants, she skips town. Meanwhile, Trey Radisson is having his own crisis. He invented a weapon that never should have existed. He destroyed it, but now a terrorist organisation – the Chrome Falcons – know that he has the ability to re-create it. They will do anything to gain control of him. When Sonya witnesses one of their attempts to capture Trey, she feels that she has been granted a new path of salvation from God. Her new mission is to protect this man at all costs.
An action-packed, multi-layered chase ensues. With fight sequences, tech labs, guns and helicopters, this novel has a video game quality. Although romance and religion are both heavily threaded throughout, action remains the strongest theme. The novel’s description, however, reads as though technology and terrorism are the main focus. Both are mentioned continuously throughout, but rarely delved into like the other themes. I would suggest that those who enjoy action, rather than science-fiction, pick it up.
Although the two central characters both have growth arcs, they are not entirely consistent or fleshed out. The novel is plot-driven, without delving too deep into characters. Both Trey and Sonya seem to alternate between unlikeable, selfish, cold people and warm heroes we’re expected to love. Another inconsistency was that individual members of the terrorist organisation were generally depicted as fools. This seemed unrealistic, as the Chrome Falcons are a technology-based, underground group who are evading the FBI. If they recruited dumb members, they wouldn’t have lasted this long.
The style of writing itself in this novel is very detailed. The author gives time to specify scenery, directions and surroundings. At the same time, the novel can occasionally over-share. The characters all have long inner-monologues (each in the same voice despite their different personalities), as well as the tendency to catch the reader up on past events through conversation with one another rather than the character simply remembering in their head.
A warning that I would advise people of before picking up this novel is that some of the jokes may be read as offensive. Some are targeted at different populations, for example, a disabled woman in a supermarket, which I would deem insensitive to many readers.
The stylistic choices described above are not my personal preference and the themes were not ones I enjoyed. I also felt that the book did not match its science-fiction label. Therefore, I am giving the book two out of four stars. The text was very well-edited and I only found a couple of errors throughout. Schneider achieved an action-packed novel, it just wasn’t to my personal taste.
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