118. Impact (Douglas Preston)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011
J2P3 and I made a trip a few weeks ago to the big mall in town and stopped off at the big chain book seller.  Naturally, we found armloads of books we were interested in and were heading towards the check out when she suddenly reminded me that we'd be passing by one of the city's great independent book stores on our way home.  What the heck were we doing?  Always eager to support local shopkeepers when we can, we left our books, called Audrey's Books and got them to save the books we were looking for before continuing to a movie.  One of the books I nabbed later that day was Impact by Douglas Preston.  Preston is well known for collaborating with fellow author Lincoln Child on a number of books.  Regular readers of London's Fog will likely recognize both names as they are two (together or separately) whose work I enjoy.

Here's the blurb from the back of the book and what grabbed my attention: 

     Wyman Ford is tapped for a secret expedition to Cambodia ... to locate the source of strangely beautiful gemstones that do not appear to be of this world.
     A brilliant meteor lights up the Maine coast ... and two young women borrow a boat and set out for a distant island to find the impact crater.
     A scientist at the National Propulsion Facility discovers an inexplicable source of gamma rays in the outer solar system.  He is later found decapitated, the data missing.
     High-resolution NASA images reveal an unnatural feature hidden in the depths of a crater on Mars ... and it appears to have been activated.
     Sixty hours and counting.

Aliens?  Meteors crashing into earth?  Mysterious deaths?  Count me in.  I'm all about apocalyptic extra-terrestrial murder mysteries!!! 

The book, as with most of the Preston/Child books I've read, was fast paced and full of action.  Hired assassins chasing people across the country, deadly storms on the high seas, international intrigue, and narrow escapes while the fate of the planet hangs in the balance.  Douglas Preston weaved the three storylines together seamlessly and the result was highly enjoyable, couldn't-put-it-down piece of fiction.  If I ever went to the beach, this would be one of those "must have" summertime reads for me. 

Preston ends the novel with an epilogue that I felt could have been omitted - it would have left the reader with a sense of the unknown, an "oh my god, what's going to happen" feeling in the pit of their stomach.  I felt the epilogue was a bit of a feel good moment thrown in to appease the masses but it didn't take away from the overall enjoyment of reading Impact

My only real beef was the side story involving selling alien technology to Pakistan and made one of the human antagonists in the novel a Pakistani Muslim bent on bringing down the United States from within. It really wasn't necessary to the story and I felt almost as though it was Preston's way of inserting his own feelings regarding political situations in the world at the moment.  After the climax of the novel (which I won't give away...don't worry, no spoilers!), Preston writes "The Muslim world is on fire. But it looks like the rest of the world's turning the corner." (p.414).  He makes it sound, at least to me, that the "Muslim world" is full of insane religious fanatics while the rest of the world is more sophisticated and rationale.  Perhaps I'm reading too much into it given the current situation in the world but there you go.

Would I recommend Impact?  Sure thing.  I found it a great quick light read that kept me entertained (and late returning to my desk at lunch).  Need something to read?  Why not pick up a copy from your LOCAL book seller today?  Or, better yet, try the library.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Thanks for putting down those books at the big chain and heading to your local indie bookstore!

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