Saturday, December 12, 2009

Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly

Main character: Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield, marine extraordinaire
Location: all over the world
Time Period: Contemporary
Genre: Fiction, Action/Adventure, Geo-Political Conspiracy Military Thriller
Series: Shane Schofield #3

One of my library patrons recommended this series to me, and was so enthusiastic that she even went to the shelf and fetched it for me. How could I refuse? It is an exciting and fast-paced novel, but this type of book is not really my cup of tea. I will admit that I am at a bit of a disadvantage jumping in to the middle of the series, so I am not very invested in the characters. Because of this, I did not feel the emotion of some of the major losses along the way.

What did strike me was what this book--and others like it--has in common with three other types of entertainment: action-adventure movies, superhero comic books, and shojo manga. I did read a very amusing blog post (which, alas, I did not bookmark and now cannot find again) that talked about the rules of shojo violence. Some of them--the hero has an unlimited supply of blood and therefore cannot bleed to death, vital organs seem to magically shift position to avoid the path of weapons, and the hero cannot defeat the enemy until he has been brought to the brink of defeat--could easily apply here. Shane is beaten, shot, tortured, and nearly exploded, but he manages to shrug off all injury and keep going because to stop would mean death.

Shane discovers that he, along with 11 others, is the prey in an international bounty hunt. What follows is a series of set pieces where he and his allies are attacked by elite squads of bounty hunters and from whom they escape barely by the skin of their teeth, usually at the very last minute. In the infrequent and too short moments of respite between attacks, they have to figure out why the hunt was called, what is the significance of the deadline, who is behind it, and why Shane is included on the list. There is a lot of excitement here, but as with movies which feature a lot of explosions, stunt scenes, and CGI destruction, after a while it just becomes tiring.

I will admit to being moved by the scene where Shane and one of the few surviving members of his team, a tough woman warrior codenamed "Mother", express their grief through a fistfight, and I will also admit that though they won't be at the top of my to-do list, I might just be tempted to seek out the earlier books.

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