Audiobook Review: Sick by Brett Battles

17 04 2013

Sick by Brett Battles (Project Eden, Book 1)

Read by MacLeod Andrews

Audible, Inc.

Length: 9 Hrs 50 Min

Genre: Plague Thriller

Quick Thoughts: I was in search of a fun filled, explody, chasy , blood pressure escalating listen and Sick totally hit that spot. It combines elements of Apocalyptic Plague tales, like The Stand, with the fast paced thinking man’s action similar to the Jack Reacher series. Narrator MacLeod Andrews narrate this tale with Faster Than Light pacing which I’m sure may be a violation of the laws of physics, but made it one hell of a ride for this listener.

Grade: B+

I understand the life of a character in a thriller novel can be tough. You usually have some background story that makes you wary of things to begin with, whether it be time in the military or law enforcement, or personal tragedy, you rarely come into the start of your time as a book character full of naive innocence. To make matters worse, you find yourself at the start of a Thriller novel, which means death and mayhem is coming your way. You wake up to find a fast acting plague has struck the newly established military base you are working at. As you try to save your family, you are swept up by a team in hazmat suits and taken to a secret base, where you are informed by a shady doctor that your family has all dies. You are told that it’s your duty to cooperate, but they refuse to give you any more information, or to see the bodies of your children. You are kept locked in a room with no contact from the outside world until a secret cryptic message is sent to you through your meal. Then you are rescued by another secret group, transported through across the country by intricate means being chased by shadowy types in black helicopters, until you arrive at a out of the way ranch full of secretive types with lots of high tech equipment. All of this is confusing but you’ve managed to keep it together, with an open mind, despite reeling from the loss of your family. When you finally get a chance for some answers, you find that the people who rescued you believe that this is all so sort of conspiracy? I know, what the hell? A conspiracy?!?! Haven’t these people ever hear of Occam’s Razor, where the simplest explanations of you being exposed to a deadly quick acting plague and kidnapped by a shadowy group are the simplest. Like terrorists or accidentally spill. It’s obvious the secret shadowy types and black helicopters are probably FEMA or something.  I mean, a global conspiracy, yeah right. Next they will try to tell you that NASA faked the moon landing. Conspiracy! What a bunch of highly funded, well trained and seemingly reasonable whackjobs.

Sick is the first novel in Brett Battle’s Project Eden series, about an everyday military man, Daniel Ash, who finds himself mixed up in a global conspiracy by a shadowy group.  Recently, I have been listening to a lot of high concept speculative fiction novels, and I was in search of a fun filled, explody, chasy , blood pressure escalating thriller listen for a bit of a change of pace and Sick totally hit that spot. Sick is a fun fast thriller that combines elements of Apocalyptic Plague tales, like The Stand, with the fast paced thinking man’s action similar to the Jack Reacher series. Battles starts this novel with a brutal punch, when Daniel Ash wakes up to find his wife dead, and his daughter deathly ill from a mysterious plague which infects his entire town, leaving only him and his son free of symptoms. After being held after his exposure, he is rescued by a group, who informs him that in fact, his children are still alive. Now, Ash has one goal, save his children. From the very beginning, Battles had me enthralled in his tale, and lever let me go. I really liked the Daniel Ash character, and found his story quite compelling but he also is a bit wooden throughout the novel, which makes some sense due to his shock. Along the way, he meets a variety of other characters, members of a group who are fighting a secret war against a powerful enemy. Most of these characters are colorful, on a surface level way, and hopefully will get further developed as the series continues. Daniel Ash eventually teams up with a mysterious and broken woman, Chloe, who was a victim of the Project Eden group. I found Chloe a little better developed as a character, with Battles allowing us to see true progress in her character. Yet, the fact that Ash‘s mission drove the plot, I though the true fun of this tale was the story of those dealing with the outbreak of the plague. As the plague begins to lose containment, Battles follows the stories of a reporter covering the strange nature of the plague, and two boys as they try to find their way out of the Quarantine zone. I though this aspect of the novel made a nice counterbalance to the almost wooden determination of Ash’s quest. Here the characters come alive, and the real human drama of the novel takes place. Sick was lot of fun. It’s a mix of straight forward action with apocalyptic plague drama made this a truly engrossing listen.

Macleod Andrews narrates Sick, and was one of the key reasons I decided to listen to this audiobook.  I have always enjoyed his gravely delivery that gives each novel he reads a truly unique feel. Andrews again does excellent work here. He gives each character a distinct voice that actually helped develop their story. I felt his work on Chloe was key, allowing her to move from a closed off, paranoid victim, to something more by the end of the novel. I love the work he did in the outbreak zone, handling both the female reporter and the younger characters with authenticity. Every so often, when listening to an audiobook, I find myself in this strange time distorting zone where the book feels like it’s moving faster than actual time, and every time  I look down, it seems we are closer to the end then we should be. I felt this way listening to Sick. Andrews pacing moved the novel along Faster Than Light, which I’m sure may be a violation of the laws of physics, but made it one hell of a ride for this listener. I am very much looking forward to the next entry in this series, fascinated to see where Battles will take this story next.

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One response

18 04 2013
Cathy

I loved this book and listened to all four in the Project Eden series back to back. Like you, MacLeod Andrews was the primary reason for listening, I love his narrations and have listened to many books I probably wouldn’t have because he narrated. Having said that, I enjoyed the book on it’s own merits too and am eagerly awaiting the next instalment.

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