The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
|The Anomaly by Michael Rutger|
|Reviewer: James Donald|
|Summary: An excellent work that swings between grand cinematic scenes and tight claustrophobia with ease. Great characterisation and fantastic imagination.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: June 2018|
|Publisher: Grand Central Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
Tomb Raider meets Indiana Jones within an X-Files episode, for the Youtube era. Join the intrepid (if rather inept) team of internet adventurers as they head out on yet another search for an anomaly only to (spoilers) actually find one. Imagine if, instead of being scared by their own acting, Derek Acorah and Yvette Fielding actually found something; that is the starting point of this book. Deep in a cave within the Grand Canyon our team of adventurers find themselves trapped in a Stephen King plot with added levels of paranoia and conspiracy thrown into the blend.
As I read this I was determined I would not fall into the trap of using X-Files, Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones as comparisons; I made a vow to avoid any mention of Stephen King too… but, in the end, I had to use the lot of them. I hope you don't find this lazy, but quite frankly to avoid them I would have had to describe every aspect of these books in huge detail. When I was done you'd have read it and said to yourself oh… like Indiana Jones meets the X-Files, as written by Stephen King when he was playing Tomb Raider whilst reading about the illuminati. So, in the end, I went with it. The one trap I will not fall into, however, that other reviewers are falling victim to, is to call this a debut novel. To quote the author himself from his website:
As part of a longterm goal to eventually become every author with the first name "Michael", June 19th (US) and August (UK) sees the publication of a novel under the name Michael Rutger. It should be noted that the author also writes under the names Michael Marshall and Michael Marshall Smith. It should also be noted that he is a Hollywood script writer too, this is important.
Rutger produces a work that can drill down to a character level with the skill of King, making us know and care about the people with ease, and then zoom right out. These personal moments followed by the big picture make this book truly cinematic. In the first chapter I wasn't sold. I really felt like I was reading a debut by a script writer who was struggling to produce a novel. This feeling passed very quickly and whilst this is, undoubtedly, written with one eye on getting optioned, it is a great read in its own right. Very quickly you are pulled into the rabbit hole of the plot and you just have to let the current take you.
In terms of the plot there are twists and turns to keep you hooked. The full extent of what is happening is not obvious until the end but the author doesn't cheat to keep this from you. Whilst it isn't fair to say that we have an unreliable narrator, it is fair to say that the character is unaware of everything that is happening. We are led to believe things have, or have not happened, because that is what our POV character thinks. This is cinema 1-0-1 again. The screaming teenage girl stabs the monster and things him dead, so we think it too, then the monster pops up in her bedroom. What is clever here is that it doesn't happen with the monsters as such and the way it happens is rather well done.
It is possible that Rutger is looking to make a sequel if this is successful. He deftly produces some world-building that would either allow the main characters or the nasty and scary world organisation in the background to live again in another book. If this is a standalone work it is strong enough to last the test of time. Gripping, fun, horrifying and clever – I really enjoyed reading this.
For further reading Michael Marshall Smith was one of the contributing authors on Monster's Corner by Christopher Golden (Editor)
You can read more book reviews or buy The Anomaly by Michael Rutger at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Anomaly by Michael Rutger at Amazon.com.
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