The Baltic Triangle Codename Seaforth By Nicholas P Clark

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This book was a rip roaring adventure. It grabbed readers by the throat with its vivid action sequences and scatterings of dry humour, and it refused to let go. The story follows Jack Malaney, a witty Scotsman with a glib tongue and fierce moral compass. His world is changed forever when he is recruited by the grim faced officers of MI6 to serve his country and save the world. Jack must leave his cosy life in rain drenched Glasgow to fight against both terrorists and the threat of nuclear warfare alike.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a genuinely entertaining read that was impossible to escape from – I found that even when I wasn’t reading it, the story would leak its way into my thoughts. The book provided a chilling insight into the savage world of the IRA. That sense of real danger, coupled with the way tension accumulated throughout the story, made this book a true thrill ride. Yet despite the brutal nature of the antagonists, the story had a cheeky, witty vibe to it that never ceased to make me smile.

What I found really interesting about this book wasn’t all the spy related action scenes (though they were pretty exciting) – it was the characters. The protagonist, Jack Malaney, was a very likeable young hero. The sheer volume of his patriotism never ceased to amaze me, and his bravery was palpable yet still very realistic.

However, not all the characters were so successful. I found that the way MI6 spymasters were portrayed as being cold, calculating and English to the point of let’s have a cup of tea in London, was not very original. Though these minor characters were intrinsic to the overall plot, I was a little bored by their overused personalities. I felt I had already met them in other books, in particular those penned by Ian Fleming.

This minor issue with some minor characters aside, the rest of the book was very unique and contained themes that were in no way overused. The climax of the story delivered completely in terms of successful plot conclusion and character development, and the ending was brilliant. The plot was fast paced and complex – but not in way that was convoluted or confusing. I particularly enjoyed Clark’s writing style, which was efficient, effective and detailed. The ending to this book left a few questions still unanswered, and as a result I’m definitely going to read the next story in the series. This was a very enjoyable, first rate thriller that I would whole heartedly recommend!

ZomB City by Darren Shan

zombZomB is the latest book in the latest series by Darren Shan. The twelve book series follows the adventure of B Smith, an uncouth girl from the depths of London’s East End, as she battles both racism and zombies.

This new series is on a downwards-spiralling crash course to Bad Book Town. I’m just going to put that out there now. It is, quite frankly, terrible. The key idea behind the series is relatively decent: zombies attack the globe, infecting humans with their killer bites and scratches, and the survivors are left to fight for their lives. Sounds quite exciting, right? There’s only one small problem. The book is a joke.

In comparison to the other twelve part series penned by evil genius Darren Shan, this series is an absolute shambles. There’s no wit, no dark humour, no action. Not even a the slightest breath of adventure. There is no amazing minor character/evil villain that readers root for, like the Cirque du Freak’s Larten Crepsley, The Demonata’s Lord Loss, or the Thin Executioner’s Tel Hesani. The series is even devoid of the usual fear factor – and coming from the “Number One Master of Children’s Horror”, this is pretty disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong here. I love Darren Shan. He is one of my favourite authors. I even went to one of his book signings once upon a time (though the dude had sold out and we were turned away at the door.) But this new series – ZomB – is a huge let down.

Let’s talk about this particular book. “ZomB City”. The title basically sums the whole thing up. This is a book about a bunch of zombies hanging out in London. Nothing else happens. It is a horrendous waste of paper. The only exciting part was when the evil devil clown Mr Dowling (introduced earlier in the series and depicted on the cover) decided to make an appearance. I’m oddly fond of the guy. He’s a demon – I think. The whole Mr Dowling situation is a little ambiguous at this stage of the series. Anyhoo, I like the demon clown because he pours spiders on people. Yes, you heard right. He opens his mouth and lots of little spiders scuttle out onto the unfortunate victim. What do the spiders do? You may ask. The answer? No idea. They’re pretty harmless, but they make people freak out. And fair enough, I suppose. I know I would freak out if lots of spiders were poured onto me.

I read this entire book in one night. I suppose this is a sign that maybe the book isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be. Like all Darren Shan books, this novel wasn’t really bad all the time. There were some exciting bits – like the entrance of Mr Dowling – and Darren’s writing is still quite compelling. This book was unputdownable. But it is also unpickuabable, if you get my meaning. I would never read this book again, and when I turned the final page of this rather pitiful hardback, I was relieved that the two hour ordeal was finally over.

So what was it about this book that I particularly disliked? I’ll rattle off some bullet points:
• One. The dystopian world was just plain unrealistic. I’m not buying into the universe that Mr Shan has created here – in fact, I’m laughing at it. The threat of zombies isn’t fear inducing; it’s ridiculous. The whole picture of a post-apocalyptic London is painted poorly, and the ZomB universe lacks passion and detail.
• Two. This book is a PICTURE BOOK. Why Darren, why??

I really enjoyed all the other series and stand-alone novels that Darren Shan has written over the years. But I did NOT enjoy this third instalment of ZomB. Hopefully the fourth book of the series will be more entertaining…