Review of Troubled Zen

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joshfee77
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Review of Troubled Zen

Post by joshfee77 »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Troubled Zen" by Wolfric Styler.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Troubled Zen is an action thriller by Wolfric Styler. The year is 2016. Australian Zenobia and her experienced British partner Alan are experts at defusing UXO: unexploded ordnance. They travel to various locations to ensure the safety of others. Alan, who has a young family, is thinking about leaving the army and doing something less dangerous. When he and Zen are called out to defuse a UXO at Holkham Beach in Norfolk, England, something goes terribly wrong... Flash forward to 2019. Zen has retired from the army and is back in Australia, working a job in construction. Her boss, Des, asks her to transport a small shed on a truck to Peak Crossing. During the journey, she stops to help an apparently broken-down van, but it's really an ambush, and they believe she is ferrying drugs...

Troubled Zen starts with a three-page glossary explaining military slang and relevant ordnance. As a civilian, I learned several new terms which helped me while reading the book. Styler exhibits a clear knowledge of military equipment and procedures consistent with his experience in the army. The military terminology is presented naturally throughout the story, its clarity aided by context and the glossary.

Styler's descriptive writing is easy to read, incorporating the five senses as appropriate to bring his story to life. His character descriptions are neat, with two or three sentences used to establish their appearance and actions when we first meet them. His characters are also developed consistently, with specific character traits like Zenobia's method of counting while breathing to calm herself down. The book also features some great humour, such as the clever jokes and put-downs by Zen, especially for chauvinistic men she encounters in her construction job.

Troubled Zen is not without its faults, but they are minor. Commas and other punctuation are regularly misused, especially around dialogue. The book needs general formatting, mainly the indenting of new paragraphs. There are occasional inconsistencies, such as the pronoun changing from "you" to "me" in the same passage while Zen mentally talks to herself. The presentation of the dialogue is also confusing at times; for example: "His coughing died down as his breath recovered, 'It's nice and quiet out here, I could go on for hours.'" This is her (Zen) speaking, not him (her attacker), but it appears to be the opposite.

A few character actions also struck me as odd or unintentionally amusing. For example: "I told Don what happened and he was pissed. He went to see Wang, who punched him in the face and told him to calm down." I couldn't help but laugh. Wang is clearly a monster, but how much sense does it make to punch someone in the face if you want them to calm down? Similarly, Zen's friend and ex-commanding officer Neville, upon finding out someone had been beaten up, said, "Goodness gracious me." Now, I understand he is a prim and proper British person, but I'm not sure anyone under the age of 80 actually says that.

Despite these minor issues, I did enjoy this book. I therefore rate Troubled Zen 3 out of 4 stars. It is a solid thriller with an exciting story. It just needs a general clean-up by a professional editor. I believe it would appeal to most people who enjoy action thrillers, particularly those with an interest or background in the military. It does contain a significant amount of profanity, but I feel this is consistent with the genre.

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Summer Henrietta
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Post by Summer Henrietta »

A well detailed and thrilling book with exciting description of its characters.
Nice review.
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Post by Amy Luman »

I think I like Zen, or at least the little I’ve read about her. She sounds able to take care of herself. I am also excited to find out what happened to Alan.
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Post by Oluwasogo Familusi »

I like the inclusion of the military glossary terms. It'll help to understand this book better. I'd have loved to watch this if it was in form of a movie; I don't like reading about military actions in books so I'll just pass on this. Thanks for the review.
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Post by Fearnia Laurel »

Your review makes me curious on what happened before Zen retired, what went wrong. While I like that the author put a glossary for the military slang and relevant ordnance, I am a bit hesitant when I heard it is 3 page long. I don't like to keep needing to go back to glossary in the middle of reading. This book would suit people who are interested in military, which I unfortunately am not. Thank you for the review.
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Post by joshfee77 »

Summer Henrietta wrote: 21 Jul 2022, 10:28 A well detailed and thrilling book with exciting description of its characters.
Nice review.
Thanks. This is definitely an entertaining thriller; I enjoyed it.
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joshfee77
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Post by joshfee77 »

Amy Luman wrote: 21 Jul 2022, 15:57 I think I like Zen, or at least the little I’ve read about her. She sounds able to take care of herself. I am also excited to find out what happened to Alan.
I admire strong women, and Zen is definitely strong and courageous. A great protagonist who drives the action in an entertaining thriller.
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joshfee77
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Post by joshfee77 »

Oluwasogo Familusi wrote: 22 Jul 2022, 08:41 I like the inclusion of the military glossary terms. It'll help to understand this book better. I'd have loved to watch this if it was in form of a movie; I don't like reading about military actions in books so I'll just pass on this. Thanks for the review.
Thanks! With plenty of action, I do think this one would make a good movie.
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joshfee77
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Post by joshfee77 »

Fearnia Laurel wrote: 25 Jul 2022, 10:37 Your review makes me curious on what happened before Zen retired, what went wrong. While I like that the author put a glossary for the military slang and relevant ordnance, I am a bit hesitant when I heard it is 3 page long. I don't like to keep needing to go back to glossary in the middle of reading. This book would suit people who are interested in military, which I unfortunately am not. Thank you for the review.
Yeah, I did have to refer back to the glossary a couple of times, but a lot of the terms were pretty simple and straightforward, so I knew them already. Thanks for commenting!
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Post by NetMassimo »

Such an importance of the military element - with its long glossary! - is not my favorite but mostly seems like an engaging thriller with a lot of action. Thank you for your great review!
Ciao :)
Massimo
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