The Plague Forge delivers an unbeatable combination of knockout action and kick-ass characters as the secrets to the ultimate alien mystery from The Darwin Elevator and The Exodus Towers are about to be unraveled.
©2013 Jason M. Hough (P)2013 Random House
"[Jason M.] Hough’s first novel combines the rapid-fire action and memorable characters associated with Joss Whedon’s short-lived Firefly TV series with the accessibility and scientific acumen of J. S. Corey’s ‘Expanse’ series." (Library Journal on The Darwin Elevator)
"The best part about alien stories is their mystery, and Jason Hough understands that like no other. Full of compelling characters and thick with tension, The Darwin Elevator delivers both despair and hope along with a gigantic dose of wonder. It’s a brilliant debut, and Hough can take my money whenever he writes anything from now on." (Kevin Hearne, New York Times best-selling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles on The Darwin Elevator)
"Newcomer Hough displays a talent for imaginative plotting and realistic dialogue, and the brisk pacing and cliffhanger ending will keep readers enthralled and eagerly awaiting the next installment." (Publishers Weekly on The Darwin Elevator)
" I have my mind... & a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." -T.L.
I'm reviewing the entire trilogy because I have been able to read the 2nd book 'The Exodus Towers' along with this book all within a 2 month period of time. At the end of the 1st book it leaves the reader quite confused about what ET's have to do with the book as opposed to just laying down the major players within the series. The 2nd & 3rd book I read in close succession & I believe that is what made this book so much more enjoyable for me than if I had to wait any extended period of time. Its a theory I'll never be able to test out but it was a major thought & concern that can't be answered because the author released all 3 books quickly in literary terms.
This book started out as a relatively average book in the 1st but the last 2 ended as a tour-de-force by touching on not only the most important part of the sci-fi portion of this series, First Contact, but it also brought out the basic rules of the primal laws of nature. Now apply human laws that apply when there is a complete breakdown of a prior civilization & those who are intelligent, resourceful, & ruthless enough to lead or show how the strong survive & the meek DO NOT inherit the earth.
A great twist on the 'human nature' side of this book is a problem our country still has not understood nor mastered how to handle a leader in power who is found to contain traits making them persona non grata to those that see their 'true colors'. If u remove this person who is to say the next person to step up is not even worse than the original once the façade is ripped away?? I think our CIA can still attest to making huge mistakes in deciding short-term decisions without thinking about long-term effects. In the beginning of this book a plague breaks out that kills off 9 billion humans & leaves a group of survivors to figure out how to try & live again while having these strange alien artifacts that point to a larger event happening in the near future.
The 'First Contact' portion of this book I cannot say is completely original but I can def. say that if a reader likes puzzles, the use of a people willing to sacrifice for the whole, & how that would play into the background of first contact with another alien race, this is a book for u. Not only do our established protagonists go thru the 'normal' problems facing a population reduced to mere shambles of its prior form, the characters are also thrust into figuring out apparent puzzles the aliens have made for them that aren't the kind u would like to play willingly, think Indiana Jones & not Monopoly lol. All the while u have the most traditional set of principles to explain the unexplainable humans seem to love using... RELIGION. Now don't get me wrong, this book is in no way a theologian story, but for a person who see's organized religion as not the best thing that happened to humanity it was bound to grab a large population of survivors due to one of the purest of human traits, Faith.
These books brought a successfully equal amount of action, drama, metaphysical, & plenty of trials requiring human nature related thinking to SURVIVE. The ending was also above average considering when u get thru book 2 most readers are probably thinking 'how is the author going to wrap this clusterfu*! up in a bow?' & not make the reader cringe or say 'COME ON!! WTF, I READ ALL THIS JUST TO END INTELLECUALLY IMPAIRED?!'.
A great ending to a wonderful story.
Please do start with the first book, of the Dire Earth Series and listen to them as audio. Simon Vance brings Jason Hough's glorious imaginings to life in a way that IMHO is an order of magnitude greater than what the printed word can accomplish.
The Plague Forge is the final installment in Jason M Hough's Dire Earth Cycle trilogy. By the end of book two, the builders' plan was coming into focus just a bit with a few additional alien artifacts needed. Skylar and his band divide up to scour the globe for the remaining items with one team heading into North America, while Skylar heads to Africa and the Darwin crew attempting outsmart Grillo for the last piece. Nothing seems to go right for any of them, although Skylar does find the source of the plague virus.
There's little new sci-fi elements, save for the denouement with the aliens that is handled largely as just a final explanation and potential setup for a new series ala the film Cocoon. Subs abound, especially when the artifacts are handled to the extent that the tale has a zombie feel. At the same time, there's a near overload of all the characters experiencing multiple near and presumed death events only to always miraculously escape. Also, the builders themselves turn out to be less than perfect and don't actually save the day, quite the reverse actually.
The narration is quite well done given the large cast of characters, although the pace does drag a bit in the early going. Hopefully further adventures with Skylar and crew are in the works.
The Dire Earth Cycle overall is a fairly well done version of the "man versus man" motif, using the setting of a post-apocalyptic Earth for exploring humanity's inhumanity to itself, human greed, and shortsightedness. Early on, the series has the feel of a zombie story, which it really isn't. Action sequences are well done.
This isn't a series you can pick up in the middle, and the time spent on the preceding novel is well worth the time. Character development takes time, but does not feel overly drawn out.
Simon's British accent is notable, but not distracting, which I consider a good thing. However, his ability to perform alternative accents is weak.
His reading pace is excellent. Pauses are presented perfectly for dramatic effect without being overdone. His overall speed of performance is just right.
Along with the weakness in accents, individual character voices are not often memorable. There is sufficient differentiation that you can tell when one character's dialog runs into another character's.
This trilogy ranks near the top of my favorites list.
Griping story with great action sequences.
Yes, but was too long to be listened to in one session.
My only disappointment was the ending, if indeed it was the ending, but don't let that dissuade you from listening - its still a great story.
"Computer games roots start to show"
Anti-climax, fun , diverting
Finding out that Hough has a background in computer games really makes sense of the direction this final book in the series played out.
Vance's slightly world weary delivery for the characters and the slight but effective characterisation.
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