Saturday, July 12, 2014

What We're Reading - Alpha by Greg Rucka

While many of you are using the adult summer reading program, Novel Destinations, to read and travel the world, I decided to take a local trip to one of everyone's favorite summer stops, an amusement park.

In the very capable hands of Greg Rucka, what should be a fun, family vacation destination becomes, in his nifty thriller entitled Alpha, a tense battle of wits and abilities with the good guys and bad guys equally matched.

The basic elements for a thriller are all here. Capable but flawed hero, check: Jad Bell is former military special forces member, who is sent undercover on the Wilson Ville [think a large scale rival to Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm] security staff. Bad, bad guys, check: We have them in a Russian-based terrorist group with their own undercover staff member in the park. A life-threatening event, check! How about a dirty bomb detonating at the park? Complications on both sides to provide challenging obstacles to both good guys and bad?  Absolutely--a thriller is no fun without friends/family being on hand during the prevention or execution of the terrorist plot. Rucka provides twists and turns aplenty on both sides. And of course, not everything is what it seems at first glance.

If I make Alpha sound a bit formulaic, of course it is! Find me any type of genre fiction that isn't! But Greg Rucka accomplishes much by spinning the thriller formula in slightly different directions, while providing characters you care about and painting an interesting picture of what a large-scale amusement park is all about behind the happy facade. That's what makes the execution here so very enjoyable. It's perfect summer reading; and while the Wilson Ville park winds up not being the happiest place on earth in Alpha, anyone who likes a good, fast-paced page-turner should be happy with his visit! An E-ticket ride (which shows my age, but is an apt comparison).

Alpha is the first in a new series by Rucka. The second book, Bravo, is due out on July 22nd. I'll be keeping an eye out for it and I'll bet that if you read Alpha, so will you.

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