I was in the mood for some disaster thrillers and saw the new book, Kill Zone, by Kevin J. Anderson & Doug Beason. I haven’t read anything by this author duo before, although I’ve noticed they’ve written several thrillers so far, so I gave it a go. And, let’s just say, it didn’t disappoint me.
What could go wrong when a team of experts enters a decommissioned Cold War-era nuclear warhead facility which now has been turned into a secret nuclear waste dumping ground, especially when there is something else hidden in that Hydra Mountain facility that is even more dangerous than the nuclear waste itself? Especially when not even the president is cognizant of the other ultra-secret project that is going on at the same place? Well, according to Murphy’s Law, everything. And this is exactly what happens: everything goes wrong right from the start, and the horrors just keep on giving until the very last page.
The story is fast-paced, and things (bad things) happen pretty much one after another. The people trapped under those mountains cannot get a break. Most of them are pretty awesome people, clever, intelligent, and with both feet firmly on the ground. Yet, we have those few idiots in power who manage to put everyone else in danger just because of their over-inflated ego.
We have Adonia, who oversees another nuclear waste research, a war hero who is also incidentally her ex-boyfriend, and a few politicians, who stay true to their cartoonish characters. I can’t really say I liked any of the characters because there was not enough time (despite the over 300-page book) to get to really know them. The whole main story at the facility takes place within just a few hours. There is no character arc, no character development, and even the budding romance between Adonia and her ex includes nothing more than a few gestures, hushed looks, and a few exchanged words.
The politicians are cartoonish, indeed. All stereotypes you’ve read about lobbyists, senators, and other such useless people having over-paid positions were inserted in the two main evil and stupid guys’ personalities. If there was one person I felt more sympathy toward, it would have to be the environmental activist, Dr. Simon Garibaldi. Initially, he sounded like one of the usual crackpots, but he really did grow over those few hours, and the authors managed to give him an impressive background that explained his stance on the whole nuclear waste affair. He became my favorite character of the whole bunch.
While the story was fast-paced and I breezed through it in just one afternoon, I did find the ending a bit abrupt. We basically have to imagine what happened after. I’m usually a person who does like it all spelled out with all its gory, delicious and vengeful details, so in this respect, I felt a tiny bit cheated out of that ending. But one can always imagine…
Overall, Kill Zone was one heck of a ride, one which is too current for treating it as simple fiction. Given what we’re all learning about the hidden skeletons in the closets of the major superpowers (especially America) due to whistleblowers and whatnot, I could easily imagine such a scenario play out just the way the authors described it here. And that’s too scary to even contemplate for too long.
I’ll be sure to pick up some of the older books by the authors. If they’re anything like their latest offering, I won’t go wrong in reading them.