One of the high points of my work for Starving Reviews LLC is that I always get a new variety of meals out of the pantry. While I’ve dined at the table of political thrillers in the past, this one adds a swirl of alternate histories and time travel to spice the mix up. Of course, we all know that adding new spices to any recipe is there’s always a chance that the new ingredients screw up the meal. Is Apocalypse Disrupted an example of that or does it pull off the blending to make a better whole?
Before we answer that question, let’s review the Starving Review rules:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible
Overall, yes, I’d say so. There is an interesting core premise to the supernatural/science fiction elements mixed in with the main thriller course, something that binds the whole meal together into a harmonious meal. An interesting point that makes this repast different from many other alternate history books is that there is never a starting history that is identical to our own. At first, this seemed a bit unusual, but it, like most other plot threads, comes together in the end.
There is a lot of meat to enjoy here. The core political mysteries and the power games played form the largest part of the plot and conflict, and they are all handled with a great deal of care and research. History buffs, such as myself, might be slightly thrown at first, but once your tastebuds acclimate to that important fact above (the starting history isn’t exactly our own), things fall into place and the rest of the ride is quite smooth.
The finale, as well, is well-cooked and blends the hanging threads together into a nice chocolate pudding, leaving just enough left-overs to tease a possible sequel. Along with a properly staged plot and excellent researched ingredients, the chef works in a solid, clean style, something important to keeping all the plot threads and character viewpoints clean in the third-person alternating style Mr. Freriks employs here.
There is only one real flaw, at least in my eyes, and that’s in the characters. While there are no cardboard cutouts on display, at least along the major cast, there is a certain element of stereotypes mixed liberally in, especially with the antagonists. There is an attempt to turn away from stereotypical villaindom, as well as several steps to try to put the morality of the situation on its head, but they ultimately ring hollow. Add to that a few head-scratching moments of odd decision making by the protagonist (which I can’t really explain without SPOILERS) and a strange lack of representation among the cast and the characterization and cast feel a bit off. It’s not a deal-breaker but it still worms its way into my consciousness.
To sum things up, Apocalypse Disrupted is a tasty treat of alternate history mixed with political thriller that only sours a tad on the character front! If you love political thrillers or enjoy alternate history tales, you would do well with picking this one up, especially with the strong chance of a sequel. If these aren’t your genres of choice, you may still want to give this a look, but check out the previews first before committing. All in all, a solid read.
FINAL VERDICT: **** (A tasty treat of alternate history mixed with political thriller that only sours a tad on the character front!)