A breathtaking novel of dark suspense and bittersweet nostalgia, Second Chance breaks new ground for a writer whose work critics have favorably compared to such disparate writers as Camus, Cheever, and Stephen King. In Second Chance, Chet Williamson defines a generation and gives readers the ride of their lives through a disquietingly different and threatened America. Thrills, romance, and nail-biting suspense combine to create a novel in which a Big Chill-like gathering of old friends could lead to the real "Big Chill" for every person on Earth.
It all begins innocently enough. Woody Robinson, a successful musician, gathers his baby boomer friends and recreates an evening in 1969 out of nostalgia for his long dead love, Tracy. The party quickly becomes a wake for lost ideals, and then something more, as time and fate play wonderful and terrible tricks on the celebrants. By the evening's end, Tracy is back in Woody's life as though she had never left. But there is another change as well, a shocking one. His name is Pan. An environmental terrorist who wants to save the world by destroying humanity, he has the deadly viral ammunition to do just that. Pan will prove that the darker side of the sixties isn't dead -- it's only been sleeping. Now it's awake and furious. And only one man and one woman can stop the nightmare.
With the swirling color and magic of a Fillmore West poster, the hallucinogenic impact of a Jim Morrison lyric, and the wistful voice of early Dylan, Second Chance is an unforgettable tale of love, loss, and redemption, an electrifying synthesis of past and present that will enchant its readers today and haunt them tomorrow.
©2010 Chet Williamson (P)2010 CrossRoad Press
It starts like someone's looking back at their past and after a couple of odd twists and turns goes in a whole new direction. When you are comfortable where it's headed. it does it again. A thoroughly fascinating book!
A have a confession to make. I stopped reading print books some time ago. I still read "graphic novels", but ever since audiobooks started getting widespread coverage, I've been pretty well exclusively listened to books. A big downside of this is when some books and authors you loved don't have audio versions of their books, particularly when they weren't huge names. Chet Williamson was one of those authors. Others would include GM Hague and John Gideon. I hadn't read Second Chance back in the day, but Soulstorm and Ash Wednesday were favorites of mine. So the first of the fitting "second chances", I feel like I'm getting a second chance now at Chet Williamson's books. And a new generation of readers too have a second chance at discovering Chet Williamson.
The book itself is a great novel blending several genres in a smooth mix - time travel, horror, eco terrorism, and an apocalypse. The book starts and takes you many directions you don't expect, and it certainly didn't end like I thought it was going to. The journey is enjoyable. The book was written and set in the 90's, but aside from the laxer airline security evident in the book in one spot, the whole background theme of what Pan is doing is actually even more relevant and fitting now. Some hard moral questions at some points of the story made me think. The story is about a lot of unexpected second chances, and love and sacrifice.
Having the author himself narrate was fantastic too. Some of my favorite audiobooks would be the Stephen King novels where Stephen King narrates, particularly the incredibly hard to get narration of Desperation. I'm very eager to listen to more of Chet Williamson narrating the books of Chet Williamson, and already have Soulstorm in my library.
A couple of years ago I was privileged to moderate a Bouchercon panel featuring the great F Paul Wilson; a blurb from the creator of Repairman Jack was enough to sell me on this even without the comparison to Cheever (albeit one I'm not sure is entirely accurate). So I enthusiastically put up my hand for a review copy. I received that for free, but my views are independent, honest and my own.
I'm therefore pleased to be able to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It revolves around a famous musician now mourning his lost love from college days, who, in a fit of nostalgia, gathers around his friends from the old days and through a series of events that I won't ruin for you, finds himself embroiled in thwarting a devastating eco-terrorist, who is in turn on the trail of a Nazi germ warfare consipracy. It's a lot of high-voltage fun, with some sweetness and sadness thrown in; a broad range of well-drawn and convincing characters, and if there are a few moments which require quite a bit of suspension of disbelief, I found myself happy to suspend away.
The real strength of this audiobook, however, is the narrator. I was a little sceptical of how good an author could be at narrating his own work, but Williamson is absolutely outstanding. He has genuine acting chops and was convincing at everything from adolescent children to a middle-aged black woman to an old white farmer, and all points in between. Not all authors can read their own work persuasively, but in Williamson's case I felt like I was in his head, seeing what he saw.
And yes, there are a few unresolved questions left at the end of this book, but the only one I really cared about is: Why hasn't this been made into a movie yet?!
I'm already adding more of Chet Williamson's work to my wishlist, and hoping to find more he has narrated himself, too.
"Interesting theory of parallel universes"
Yes. It is a fine story with love, and thrills
Woody because of his all consuming desire to recapture his lost love
No this is my first but more than willing to listen to others.
This book was provided free of charge in return for a review. I did not know what to expect but after starting the book I could not put it down until I finished it except to eat and sleep. The story line lays out a possible alternate existence that Woody did not realize existed but hoped to recapture his music but ended up recreating so much more. As a result changes happened and the group was forced to attempt a correction of the consequences.This book pulls you into the story and keeps you involved from beginning to end. I was more than pleased with the story as well as the presentation. The narrator did an outstanding job of performance and captured the various characters well.
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