21 February 2009

Review: AREA 7, Matthew Reilly

Audio CD edition published 2003 by Bolinda Audio, ISBN 1-74094-412-7. 11 CDs approximately 13 hours, read by Sean Mangan.
Novel published by Pan Macmillan Australia 2001.

Area 7 is a secret Air Force installation deep in the Utah desert, near Lake Powell. Today it is being visited by the President of the United States, but the scenario awaiting him is almost unimaginable, evil of gigantic proportions, treachery on a giant scale.

Accompanying the President is his own security squad and his helicopter crew. Just as well for the President that it contains Captain Shane Schofield, because without him the President would have been easy meat for the rogue Airforce unit waiting for him.

The amazing thing about the action of this story is that it all takes place in such a short time. It is pacy, rough, violent, but at the same time as your mind is trying to unravel the mystery, you are busy imagining the setting, and visualising the challenges. The action itself has a lot in common with the earlier book I listened to SEVEN ANCIENT WONDERS, written late (2005). You can see Reilly honing his graphic descriptive skills. I particularly enjoyed the Utah desert and Lake Powell descriptions as I visited there about 15 years ago.

AREA 7 is really a thriller, at the edge of my usual crime fiction reading. There were bits that I didn't really enjoy, (particularly the blood, guts and brains bits) but I guess that is the same in any novel. The plot kept me going though. There were times when I wondered whether Shane Schofield and his team would live to fight another day, but then the cynic in me said they would, because there is a "sequel" called SCARECROW (2005). AREA 7 itself is a sequel to ICE STATION (1999), which I haven't read. However in ICE STATION Reilly killed off one of his primary characters, as he does in AREA 7.

It feels like I have been listening to this forever, certainly two library renewals have happened. I followed hot on the heels of listening to SEVEN ANCIENT WONDERS. I really have listened to enough Matthew Reilly just for now, but I certainly won't be averse to another, perhaps the first Shane Schofield ICE STATION.

My rating: 4.4

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