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Shadow Ops: Breach Zone

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted February 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    If this is in fact the conclusion of the Shadow Ops series, it'

    If this is in fact the conclusion of the Shadow Ops series, it's a satisfying one. Alternating between the present and six years in the past, Cole gives us a complete story that builds on the previous two installments while satisfying our curiosity about how the world got to be the way it is. The action starts fast, with Scylla's invasion of lower Manhattan, and is pretty much balls-to-the-wall for the rest of the book. Even the "quiet" moments carry a level of tension that you can feel is just a minor respite; our focal characters get no rest. The battle scenes are written with a fantastic eye to detail that I think only someone who has really been in combat can capture. Cole is not afraid to take on the issue of collateral damage and the civilian human cost of military action occurring in New York City.

    Flashbacks are not a new story-telling device by any means, but the way they are employed in service to a narrative has changed since, I think, the advent of the tv series LOST. Gone are the "one flashback explains it all;" equally as rare, it seems, are the "framing device" stories where most of the novel is flashback. We now get flashbacks of varying detail interspersed with the current story, flashbacks triggered at key moments by something a character says, does, sees or feels. Not every author who attempts this type of intertwined narrative pulls it off, but Myke Cole has a pretty solid grasp on it. The "Six Years Later" chapters come at appropriate moments, when the reader needs a break in the action even if the characters aren't getting one or when the author needs to back off on the rising tension a little.

    Lt. Col. Jan Thorssen, call-sign Harlequin, has been a supporting character in the previous two books and takes center stage in this concluding volume in both the present-day and flashback portions. A large part of what I love about this book is the focus on a character we've gotten to know a little bit but who we knew had a history worth exploring. If the author was going to again shift the focal character (CP centered on Oscar Britton, FF on Alan Bookbinder), at least it was not to another character we've never seen. The fact that Harlequin has links to all of the major and minor players in the saga thus far makes him the perfect POV for the wrap-up of the story.

    What didn't work for me in was the time spent with Bookbinder on a Coast Guard cutter. Yes, the scenes were exciting in and of themselves, but they felt like those two story arcs on LOST where main characters are pulled out of the main action to take part in a separate story arc that ultimately goes nowhere. I completely understand Cole wanting to show us the Coast Guard's reaction to the Breach, and the aquatic gnomes and whale-like thingie are great action-oriented foes. Every time the action cut away to the water, I found myself thinking "this is just because he needs to keep Bookbinder out of the main action longer, but feels like he has to show us where the man is." As opposed to Oscar Britton's absence, which is neatly explained away in a couple of sentences early in the book and only brought up again when Britton's participation is necessary. Britton's absence is a compelling subplot mystery, Bookbinder's absence is an overly-long side-story. (That being said, had Cole released the Bookbinder-on-the-water material as a separate ebook novella, I'd have been all over it. Really great action sequences and character-building moments.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2014

    A much, much better book than it's predecessors. It has a very s

    A much, much better book than it's predecessors. It has a very satisfying ending and does a great job of rounding out the characters you care about. Sadly, the flaws with Oscar Britton are still prominent in all of his scenes, but he's less prevalent throughout this book than the first two.

    Overall, the series has a wonderful story, interesting setting, and very pleasing ending, with the only real flaw being...Oscar Britton and everything he does.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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