Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rex Riders by J.P Carlson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 440 pages
Publisher: Monstrosities Books (June 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982579632
ISBN-13: 978-0982579633

This book was an advanced reader copy obtained through the Library Thing website reviewers program.

“When 14-year-old Zeke Calhoun goes to live at his Uncle Jesse's broken-down ranch in Texas, he discovers that he has a natural way with horses and loves to ride. But this is nothing compared to what he finds in a riverbed near the ranch: a mysterious stranger, riddled with bullets, lying face down in the dirt, and a juvenile T-Rex keeping a pack of hungry wolves at bay. Where did the stranger come from? Who shot him and why? While Zeke saves the stranger and sets out to answer these questions, he finds something much more interesting--a bridle in the dinosaur's mouth. From that moment on he knows he is destined to ride the T-Rex. What he does not know, however, is that his actions will set off a chain of events plunging him into an incredible adventure, one that will lead to the discovery of a deadly alliance between Earth and a prehistoric world that could threaten the very fabric of both “

Welcome to the Wild West but not as we know it.

Initial First Impressions
To start with the story was a little slow and choppy. It bounced back and forth between various character point of views trying to set the scene and tell the story. To be honest it got distracting and annoying. But it settled down and then the story flowed easier I then found myself rather enjoying the book. This book is a blend of westerns, sci-fi, and teen angst. I am not normally drawn to or read either of the Western or Sc-Fi genre and I have no idea why this sparked my interest when it became available as an advance reader copy, it just did. I am glad I read it even though it took me a month (eep, to be fair this was not the books fault but my fault for not being able to find time. These days life is busy, busy, busy!).

There are a lot of characters but I guess the main three would be Zeke, Uncle Jesse and Angelina. They were believable but a smidgeon stereotypical of western movies. However, Angelina was not, and was quite an interesting character with strong morals, a little bit of spunk, and intelligence.

Stumpy the cook was perhaps my most favorite character to read and he brought a lot of humor to the book. He was the wise, gentle old man who sort of played negotiator between Uncle Jesse and Zeke.

The bad guy D’allsandro was a fairly decent bad guy. On the scale of baddies one to ten he would be about a six. He was more of an oily snake kind of character then an out right pure evil type of character. He did have a “moment” toward the end of the book, but that was again more of an arrogance moment then pure evil bastard moment.

The story was good and interesting. The blending of the western genre and sci-fi (the dinosaurs) was an interesting twist. Other then the choppy point of view and the slow start, the story actually moved at a fairly fast pace with lots of action and excitement.

This is classic pulp fiction. If you are not a fun of the pulp fiction style of writing then it is probably best to stay away from this book. Otherwise it is a fun story .

I really enjoyed the concept of this book. What if humans and dinosaurs had co-existed? Could we have domesticated them? Could we have used them as working animals? How would civilization look with domesticated t-rex’s rather then dogs?

What I didn’t Like
Well the constant jumping from point of views. It seemed really random and sometimes right in the middle of paragraph for about the space of a line. But this is more of a personal I thing. I really hate it when the point of view jumps around so much, for me it is distracting and often I just don’t see the point of knowing what a minor character is thinking when it is obvious (ie the baddie’s henchman not liking one of the main characters, the fact that he always tries to hit,shoot, belittle and bully the main character kinda gives it away that they don’t like each other).

I am not entirely sure how accurate the Professor character was.While fossils had been discovered and collected before 1800’s the first dinosaur wasn’t named till the mid 1800’s. Also given that information took a lot longer to filter around the world back then, depending on his academic base it would be hard for him to be up to date with the latest discoveries. So in short I am not sure if he would have been able to accurately identify the majority of the dinosaurs they discovered, at least not with the terms we know now. This is really a small quibble to be honest as I understand the need for a little suspension of belief to make it easier for today’s readers to understand. Also he would have been forever explaining dinosaurs. But on further thought having the paleontologist making up names could have been a fun experience.

In short
This book was fun. It is not a serious book at all; it’s light, fluffy and campy. I was not the target audience which really would be the teen male market from 13-18 (depending on likes and reading ability), and have seen a few reviews from younger readers who loved this book. Do not take it seriously and you should enjoy it. As for the target group; what teenage boy wouldn’t like this book with cowboys, cool sci-fi devices, Dinosaurs, and action?

To read an excerpt go to Rex Riders

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