Op-Center (Op-Center #1)

OpCenter1Op-Center by Jeff Rovin
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A terrorist attack in Seoul raises tensions on Korean peninsula with war looking likely, but a new federal crisis management team is task to figure out who and why before things escalate too far. Op-Center through bearing the name of Tom Clancy, who along with Steve Pieczenik created the story, was ghostwritten by Jeff Rovin about a government agency tasked with handling both domestic and international crisis.

Renegade South Korean soldiers attack an official celebration of the founding of the country implicating the North Koreans. Op-Center director Paul Hood suddenly finds himself appointed head of Task Force by a President looking for a big foreign affairs accomplishment; however evidence and a cyberattack complicate Hood giving the President a clear go ahead to launch a war. On the peninsula, a former Ambassador to the country and his friend in the KCIA take their own individual routes to lessen the growing tensions between the two sides. But the renegade squad is racing towards their next attacks—the North Korean barracks at the DMZ and Tokyo—and the only thing that can stop them is Op-Center’s paramilitary response team, Striker with Hood’s deputy General Mike Rodger along for the action.

Set roughly around the time of book’s publication a little over 20 years ago, the plot reads almost like alternate history today but still holds up fairly well. While the primary plot is very good, the subplots connected with different characters were more of a problem. Hood is torn between crisis in Korea and with this son’s health that makes him look sympathetic while his wife appears too needy given that she knew something like this could happen, Rodgers appears to be in a mid-life crisis wanting to get back to his glory days instead of being at his post, and many of the female Op-Center personal are painted broadly with a brush in various stereotypes that back when I first read the book as a teenager didn’t pop out at me but certainly did now.

While the characterization of many of the principal characters is bland, the plot and the action are very well written making this a quick and fun read for the most part. While at the time Rovin wasn’t given his due as the book’s author, he did a good job in setting up a series that would eventually reach 12. While Op-Center is not the greatest book within the action and thriller genres but those that like those genres will find it a good read.

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Jurassic Park

Jurassic ParkJurassic Park by Michael Crichton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had Jurassic Park on my shelf ever since the film adaptation appeared in theaters, sadly it took me this long to actually attempt to read it after my first attempt twenty years ago when I was still in elementary school.  After finishing Michael Crichton’s novel of a theme park with living dinosaurs gone wrong, I have to say I waited too long before read it.  The story, the characters (with development), and the thought-provoking scientific/philosophical dialogue are top notch combination that sinks the hook into the reader with each page they turn.

Since I’ve rated the book only 4 stars, there are obvious flaws that I felt detracted from the enjoyment of the overall piece.  While the majority of the characters were well rounded, a few characters that for sections of the book were prominent felt flat especially Hammond.  The lack of explanation of how the larger dinosaurs were getting off the island at the end as opposed to the boat being used by the smaller species and juveniles after how everything else was figured out left the ending a tad less wrapped up  However, even though the scientific knowledge was 20-25 years it didn’t turn out to be a hindrance to the enjoyment of the book.

After reading Jurassic Park, I am very much considering getting my hands on another Michael Crichton book.

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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's NestThe Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The finale of the Millennium trilogy is a satisfying conclusion to the story of Lisbeth Salander began in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Taking up where The Girl Who Played with Fire left off, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest follows first Lisbeth’s struggle for first life and then her freedom with the assistance of Mikael Blomkvist and host of others.  The introduction of “the Section” from within the Swedish Security Service in the role as the antagonist helps move the majority of the story arcs along in an unexpected twist than what one assumes is going to happen.

The development of each established and newly introduced character throughout the book is not only well done, but welcome after devoting so much time invested in them.  The most important development is that of Lisbeth herself who transforms from someone uncompromising to someone who realizes her position as a full citizen after seeing all her demons expunged from her life, but only after a thrilling epilogue that wraps all the loose ends.

I can not express enough how much I love this book, but I read the last half of the book in just two days and as the title of my review states it hurt to put this book down when I had to.

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The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium #2)

The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium #2)The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Stieg Larsson’s THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, the second installment in his Millennium Trilogy, it opens with protagonists Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander world’s apart, literally.  But just like THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, both Blomkvist and Salander are drawn together in a riveting mystery in which one is aiming to avenge the injustice of her life and the other looking to save her even if she doesn’t him to.  The addition of old and new characters to help define give depth to not only the mystery but the dimensions of the fascinating dark version of Sweden that Larsson conceived.

For the first quarter to a third of the book, the stage is set for the event that launches the action for the rest of the book.  Though at times it is slow, Larsson’s execution after the “event” shows the genius of that stage setting.  For significant portion of the middle of the book Salander is not heard from making the reader wonder what her true roll in the “event” was.  In the meantime, the reader follows the police, Blomkvist, and others as they react to the “event” until Salander shows up once again and things really start to get interesting as not only do we find out what happened to her during the “event” but also the explanation of her life before THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

Although I was a tad annoyed with all the build up at the beginning of the book, Larsson’s seemingly non-stop pace throughout the rest of the book more than makes up for it.  THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE is a amazing middle installment to this trilogy, building not only what came before but also setting the stage for what promises to be a fantastic finale.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

From the start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hooks the reader, making him not only interested in the main characters but also wanting to learn what is going to happen throughout the book.  Stieg Larsson gives fascinating descriptions of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, making them both not only real but also unique, then sets the two on seemingly different courses until they finally meet up in the middle of the book.  The decision to have Mikael and Lisbeth’s respective stories grow significantly before intertwining with one another was genius so as to make the character’s interactions with one another more real during the last half of the book.  The second best decision was that mystery of Harriet Vanger turned out not to be the central emphasis of the book, but a genius way of getting Mikael and Lisbeth together and seeing their independent perspectives of the outcome while also setting up their trust with one another the leads to the books intriguing finish.

I have heard the critiques that this book is sexist and anti-female, so I am going to address that in this review.  The experiences of Lisbeth in the first half of the book and what Mikael and she uncover in their Vanger investigation do seem to be really anti-female.  However, it should be noted that Lisbeth gets revenge for her situation and that both Mikael and she are repulsed with what they find out during the Vanger investigation.  Larsson throughout the book includes statistics on the sexual mistreatment of women in Sweden at the beginning of each part in his book.  So yes, Larsson does have some blatant mistreatment of women in this book, however he also shows that not every individual in this book likes it and they want to do something about it if possible.  Parts of the world we live in are pitch black and most people doesn’t want look at it, Larsson however shows that some times these things have to be looked at however uncomfortable.

Although, I understand Larsson inclusion of the mistreatment of women that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it.  The rape scenes were not a highlight in the book for me and I got through them as best I could.  However, the book as a whole had everything a really good story needed and was a fantastic read.

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