4 out of 4 stars
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Truth is stranger than fiction but books like E-M-P Honeymoon: Kelly & Tom by Dorthy May Mercer remind us that sometimes fiction contains more truth.
It all starts when United States Senator Michael McBride receives an alarming phone call from his baby sister, newlywed Mrs. Kelly Turbulo.
Kelly has finally snagged the handsome cop husband of her dreams in Sgt. Tom Turbulo and she couldn’t be happier. Their honeymoon, however, quickly turns into much more than they bargained for when Kelly accidentally stumbles on a terrorist plot to bomb the entire North American continent into a nuclear winter. Kelly is attacked, and she barely manages to escape. Now it is up to the newlyweds, along with CIA agent Steve Spalding and a group of “lovely ladies” from Sen. McBride’s office to save the world from a malicious dictator.
There is a lot to love about this action-packed book. It felt more like a summer blockbuster movie than a book, and it brought me right back to the summer of ‘96 when I saw Independence Day. This time, however, the heroes were battling human enemies instead of aliens.
Another thing I loved about the book was the way Mercer heightens the suspense by including the enemy's point of view. The reader gets to watch as doomsday ticks ever closer while Kelly and the rest of Team USA scramble to figure their plans.
My favorite part of the book, however, was the way Mercer takes a simple plot and turns it into a critical look into homeland security in the United States that borders on political satire. While the book is not necessarily meant to be as humorous as true satire, it is very clear that President Bigelow is loosely based on our current president. Mercer has also clearly spent a lot of time researching the technology behind her ideas and while the novel was science fiction, the technology is frighteningly plausible.
By the end of the book, I am convinced of one thing—Mercer is probably on several government watch lists for her in-depth research. I am not convinced, however, that the United States is prepared to intercept the type of attack that Mercer describes in E-M-P Honeymoon: Kelly & Tom. She creates a powerful argument about the potential for weakness in our nation’s defense system and creates real fear that extends beyond the pages of the novel.
It is even more effective because she mentions that the attack could be carried out by foe or “friend.” She reveals the terrorists speak a certain language and implies that they are from a nation known to be hostile but never actually reveals the name of the country. This leaves the reader with the question—is it North or South?
Though I genuinely liked this book, there were a few things about the book that didn’t work for me. At times, it seemed like the terrorists were unrealistically careless about leaving their nuclear weapons unattended, and some of the dialogue was a little goofy. The thing I disliked the most was that certain female characters occasionally came off as ditzy. However, it was all in good fun and it definitely passed the Bechdel test as most of the dialogue between the female characters was about national security.
E-M-P Honeymoon: Kelly & Tom also was reasonably well-edited. There were a few typos but not enough to detract from the overall quality of the book. It was generally tame although there were a few profanities. I felt this detracted somewhat from the book. It’s not that the profane language was offensive, but it might limit the audience of an otherwise family-friendly book. There was also one or two instances when it was implied that newlyweds Kelly and Tom had sex but it was never made explicit and was very subtle.
Overall, I rated this book 4 out of 4 stars, despite some minor hesitations. I felt it deserved this rating because of its suspenseful, yet well-researched plot that had deeper political implications outside the constraints of pure fiction. It was an entertaining, yet serious take on the dangers of life in today’s technology-driven world. This book would be perfect for fans of science fiction and romance and it is appropriate for middle-grade readers and above. What is really great about this book is that I think it would also appeal to non-readers for its cinematic descriptions and blockbuster action.
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