Monday, June 2, 2014

REVIEW: The Plague Forge by Jason M. Hough

The Plague Forge (Dire Earth Cycle, #3) The Plague Forge by Jason M. Hough
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It sucked. Horribly.

+ the writing

The writing didn't improve an inch. It remained excessively detailed. I swear, if a character went to the restroom to take a dump, the scene would have lasted FIVE full pages. Then, in the next chapter the character would still be shitting and it wouldn't be because of constipation. It didn't matter if there was action, which the book had a lot, the pace moved like molasses. I had less patience for book 3 than for book 2 so I skimmed more. I skimmed a lot. You know it's a bad book when you're skimming the action scenes.

+ the characters

I ceased caring for Skyler. He did improve from book 1. He did less angsting and more doing. Nevertheless, the character growth was nowhere enough for me to give a fuck whether the protag lived or died.

Tania, the second protag, improved a lot from the annoying-as-fuck damsel in distress she was in book 1. However, she regressed a bunch in book 3 by obsessing over Skyler. It was annoying enough to watch unrequited love from Skyler's side towards Tania, it was doubly annoying to watch it from Tania's side towards Skyler. The non-communication suffocated me.

Add in Ana, Skyler's current girlfriend, and a stinky love triangle exploded in my face. I felt bad for Ana because she loved Skyler but Skyler didn't love her as much, not as much as he secretly loved Tania. Honestly, the only reason I believe the two women loved Skyler was because he was the hero of the story and it's standard for heroes to have more than one love interest. In other words, the romance was forced and superficial.

The love triangle grated on my nerves. Tania and Ana seemed to be defined by their love for Skyler. At least with Tania, she was a protag of her own and had a life outside of Skyler. Though Ana was promoted from a minor character in book 2 to a major character in book 3, she existed solely as Skyler's sidekick. Without Skyler, she would have faded completely to the background. Thankfully, relief came in the middle of the big book when shit was so important that they couldn't afford the luxury of even a minute to obsess over Skyler. It was also depressing that it took that long and that much.

Samantha, the one major female character who wasn't a love interest of Skyler's, ceased to be my favorite character. I still liked her, which is hugely more than I feel for Skyler, but she wasn't doing anything that I thought was important shit. All she did was run, hide, and fight. It was pretty entertaining in book 1. But as the series progressed, it became boring. She didn't really serve a big role except to be one of the good guys for Skyler to save.

As for the villains, one of them disappointed me greatly. Blackfield broke character by performing a heroic act. After all that animosity and fighting against our good guys, suddenly he decided to help them towards the end because of, ew, altruism? No. I didn't buy it. I didn't buy the reason given that Blackfield was "varying the pattern," his motto of acting unpredictably to win. There's a thick line between acting unpredictably and acting altruistically, forgetting the fact that you're a despicable villain. What he should have done was backstab our good guys and survive like the cockroach of a person that he was.

As for Grillo, the other villain, he frustrated me, but it was in the sense that he was a great villain and he was kicking our good guys' ass. He didn't disappoint me as it was the good guys who disappointed me because they couldn't match him in war. What few victories the good guys gained were by luck in my opinion.

+ the ending

The ending was the worst offender of the book and overall, the series. It was rushed. It had dei ex machina. To add insult to injury, the epilogue was a letter addressed to the reader, telling the reader everything in one fat infodump. By everything, I mean all the things the book withheld from the reader. The reader learned about the reasons behind the apocalypse on Earth, the apocalypse in a galactic empire, the aliens' mission, and the characters' next adventure. The epilogue revealed the entire series as a prelude to the real story where the characters will fight supposedly evil aliens in a galactic war. A FUCKING PRELUDE. Why the fuck was this series not that story?

My feelings were confirmed in a Goodreads review which said that this trilogy was the first of three trilogies. *facepalm* I doubt that will happen if I have learned anything about series, sales, and publishers.


I rate The Plague Forge 1-star for I didn't like it. My only consolation was that I skimmed and the books were free courtesy of the very nice publisher humoring my requests. This series was essentially an unnecessarily expanded-to-the-extreme version of those prequel short stories you often see in Young Adult series.

If you read book 1 and didn't care for it but have a compulsion like me to know what happen at the "end," read book 3's epilogue. It's the only chapter that matters.

Review of book 1: The Darwin Elevator
Review of book 2: The Exodus Towers

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