Sunday, June 26, 2016
Caitlin Ross and the Commute from Hell by Brian Olsen
Synopsis From Publisher:
Caitlin Ross is on track to be the action star she's always wanted to be. She's go the lead in a new play at a downtown theater, she's got a handsome, successful boyfriend, and she's picked up some killer new martial arts skills. But after a missing teen reappears outside her theater, disfigured and violent, Caitlin finds that there's more to being a hero than just throwing punches. When mysterious portals start hurling her friends around New York City and into danger, Caitlin will have to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep her loved ones safe. If she survives long enough to discover the truth behind their teleporting tormentors, can Caitlin avoid the monstrous fate awaiting her in the theater's basement?
Where Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom, opened with a scene direct from a slasher movie, Caitlin Ross and the Commute from Hell, opens with a scene direct from the type of science fiction horror movie that gave me nightmares as a kid. I saw The Fly once as a kid, and I have yet to be able to sit down and watch it since. Because of that movie, we all know what happens to someone when their body is transported from one container, into another container that contains another live body. So you can imagine what happened to the kid mentioned in the synopsis, when the evil scientist kidnapped him, put him in a transporter type pod, and tried to transport him to another location, using a dog as the other test subject. Here's the rub, in order to transport someone, you have to break them apart at the atomic level. In order to recreate them, you have to have some sort of building blocks in place, otherwise the body can't be reconstructed. It's a gruesome and bloody process, and the horrors of it are on full display, more than once.
There is a lot going on in this book, and once again the action is split between the four roommates. They have tried to move on from the nightmares created by the artificial intelligence, Amysyn, that tried to kill them in the previous book. They thought they had beaten her, but humans being the fallible creations that we are, a character you badly want to be a good guy, ends up resurrecting a part of it, in order to try and defeat other intelligences as they develop in the future. He has his heart in the right place, but the actions he takes, in conjunction with the scientists he partnered with, do so much more harm than good. One is an egomaniac, willing to sacrifice anyone in order to reach his goals. The other, is a grieving mother who just wants her daughter back, a daughter who died as a result of her research. Both of them are bat shit crazy, and blood thirsty in their attempts. As a reader, you don't realize that he is responsible for all the pain and death that is inflicted in this book, and there is a lot of both, until the end. And even then, you still want to like him. The roommates still want to like him, and in many cases, they find that they can forgive him, if not totally trust him.
Between the wormholes opening up, hurtling subway cars to the ground, and old men into shark infested water, to the horrific consequences of the transportation machines, there is a ton of science run amok in this book. Sometimes the "scientific" aspects of the book felt heavy at times, but the author, doesn't bog the action down with overly elaborate explanations or descriptions. And while I know this is all science fiction, it fits so well into the world the author created, that none of it felt too far out there.
There are also a lot of new characters introduced, and others that are more fully developed in their second outing. Certain side characters are turned into heroes, and characters you thought may stick around, end up being cowards, or dying in ways I wouldn't wish on those I dislike the most. None of them are superfluous, as they all seem to enhance the action, rather than take away from it.
Overall this was a fast paced, humorously bloody and violent romp through New York City. It was a terrific second book to the series, and it keeps strengthening the four roommates as individuals, and as a team. I can't wait to read the third and fourth books now.