Audiobook Review: Terminus by Peter Clines
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
Series: Book 4 of Threshold
Pubisher: Audible Original (January 30, 2020)
Length: 11 hrs and 21 mins
Narrator: Ray Porter
Terminus was an audiobook that kind of snuck up on me, so even though I knew beforehand that it would be a part of the Threshold sequence, what I didn’t realize was that it was more or less a follow-up to 14. I mean, I loved that book. And while I enjoyed The Fold and, okay, even Dead Moon but to a much lesser extent, a part of me has always wondered what became of the original gang back at that mysterious old brownstone back in Los Angeles…
But wait, before you get too excited, Terminus doesn’t actually give that many answers or even provide much continuity, though if you’ve read the other books, I think there’s a lot here that would make sense or click with you, and no doubt there will also be rejoicing at the return of a couple of familiar characters. Still, even if you’re a newcomer to Threshold, the good news is that this one can be enjoyed as a stand-alone. In fact, no matter who you are or your level of experience with the series, I guarantee everyone will start with the same level of confusion at the utter strangeness with which Terminus begins. The story first introduces us to Murdoch, who appears to be a part of some religious sect calling themselves the “Family.” However, from the offhand descriptions of the congregation and teachings of their minister, it swiftly becomes clear this is not like any religion you’ve ever come across or heard of, nor is Murdoch your average kind of person.
In another thread, our focus shifts to Chase, a man who has seen his life completely fall apart and is now going his own way, sailing around the world with some interesting types. When news of a monster storm approaches, he and a few others are dropped off on a bonafide uncharted island—totally off them maps, known only to a very few. But soon, Chase and his companions come to realize this cannot be true. There is clear evidence that someone—or something—has been living on the island. Also odd is the complete absence of insects, and the fact that the plant life does not appear to be native. Then there are the deadly traps and the sneaky attacks from unseen enemies. Something’s definitely not right here, but it’s going to take everyone coming together—and a whole lot of mindfuckery—in order to figure out what.
Anyway, before we continue, can we just take a moment to geek out over the sheer awesomeness of that cover? I love me some Lovecraftian-level cosmic horror, baby! Not surprisingly, I also got some major LOST vibes from the story. Of the three previous Threshold novels, Terminus probably most resembles the mood and style of 14, more evidence that the two are more heavily linked, even leaving aside the obvious connections between the characters and the island with the Kavach Building. The overall atmosphere is creepy is surreal, steeped in mystery. It is also more brutal, nihilistic and darker in tone, featuring less of Clines’ usual wit and bantering dialogue as characters’ attitudes are shifted towards being more survival oriented. As a whole, this is much more unsettling than 14, which is apt considering how much more is at stake.
More than that, I’m hesitant to say because I don’t want to inadvertently give away too many details of the story. However, I do want to touch upon some of the characters. As I said, longtime Threshold readers will recognize a couple familiar faces, most notably Veek. Much to my disappointment though, seeing her again did not give me the satisfaction I expected. Her character was always a spitfire, which was what I loved about her in 14, but sadly this obnoxious cringey version of Veek is far from the one I remember. Honestly, her snark and divisive preachy one-liners here were so unnecessary and distracting, I couldn’t think of any good reason for them other than an attempt for the author to score some woke points (and it was definitely not worth it). The new characters were far more interesting, especially Murdoch, whose background and struggles were nothing short of amazing. Chase was also a sympathetic protagonist, though I wish we had more of his backstory to bring together his character arc development. His steady demeanor like a solid, reliable anchor in a sea of weirdness and unpredictability.
And for real, these Threshold stories are meant to warp your brain. While not every piece of the puzzle fell neatly into place to form a coherent picture (there’s some disjointedness in the story, plenty of plot holes if you stop to think about it, stuff that’s glossed over and certain instances where you just have to throw up your hands and simply roll with it), overall Terminus was slick, quirky and entertaining. Ultimately, I can also appreciate a sequel that builds significantly upon the previous books and I hope we get more. There’s certainly plenty of material!
Audiobook Comments: When it comes to audiobook narrators, Ray Porter is a personal favorite. I’ve loved his work in the past and no surprise I also enjoyed his performance on Terminus. Not only is he a pro at doing tones and accents, he’s fantastic at putting a range of emotion into his voices and made this audiobook a great listen.