Audiobook Review: Obliteration by James S. Murray with Darren Wearmouth
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): 2.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
Series: Book 3 of Awakened
Publisher: HarperAudio (June 23, 2020)
Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
Narrator: James S. Murray
Although I’m glad I got to finish the Awakened trilogy, it is unfortunate to see the quality go down with each book. To be fair, the authors probably weren’t aiming for anything more than a mindless action-packed thriller, but still, when you compare the first book with Obliteration, the differences between the two are quite telling. Gone is any attempt at creating suspense or atmosphere, as the focus shifts entirely to cramming as much action into as little time possible.
In terms of the plot, Obliteration picks up shortly after the end of The Brink. To get the most out of it, you do have to be caught up with the previous books, so be aware there may be possible spoilers in this review for what came before. As the story begins, our big baddie Albert Van Ness has been stopped and is currently serving time in a high-security prison for his murderous crimes against humanity. It was only thanks to the efforts of Tom Cafferty that millions more did not die in the name of Van Ness’ fanatical crusade against the ancient bloodthirsty creatures that have emerged from their underground nests. The world can finally catch its breath and begin rebuilding, now that it’s safe from both monster attacks and total nuclear annihilation by a madman.
But is it really over? Tom isn’t so sure. He knows there are more creature nests still out there, and he won’t rest until he finds and destroys them all. On his latest mission with his team out in the Nevada desert though, he is shocked to arrive on the scene of a purported creature stronghold to find it completely empty. Realizing too late what it means, Tom races back up to the surface to find the world in chaos. Across the globe, cities are being overrun by the monsters who have emerged from their lairs to launch a coordinated attack all at once, killing everything in their path. Within moments, the United States loses every single one of its major urban centers, including Washington DC. Left with no choice, the President orders Tom to turn to his archnemesis, Albert Van Ness. He may be an evil maniac, but Van Ness has also dedicated his entire life to annihilating these creatures, and if anyone knows what to do now, it would be him.
This was a fun book, perfect for a bit of escapism. And had I not known the authors are capable of so much more, that would have been perfectly fine. Except I have read this series starting from Awakened, and the difference going to this one reminds me of when movies get straight-to-TV sequels. While Obliteration still delivers rapid-fire cinematic action, it does smack of going through the motions. The plot is all flash and no substance, all bloodbath and no subtlety. An army of super-soldiers just appearing out of nowhere? Hey, whatever, it’s not like the audience actually cares about explanations!
Well, except I kind of care. At the very least, I wanted more development of these characters I’ve spent three books following. What we get is pretty shallow at best, though, and it’s even more lacking for the new POVs presented. I’m also disappointed that the atmosphere was a casualty in the trade-off for more action and thrills. Looking back at my review for Awakened, I praised the book for giving me serious flashbacks to the Alien movies, as well as for its claustrophobia-inducing intensity and edge-of-your-seat suspense. That’s all been thrown to the wayside apparently, and it’s actually been happening since The Brink, sad to say.
Overall, I guess there’s something to be said about the entertainment value in a book like Obliteration, but can’t say I really enjoyed myself all that much. That said, I’m glad I saw this series through to the end, even if I can’t it remaining in my memory too long. It’s a shame, because the first book started out quite strong, but unfortunately the rest of the trilogy just wasn’t able to continue the same levels of interest or momentum.
Audiobook Comments: To his credit, James “Murr” Murray once again did a great job narrating his own book. He’s clearly experienced from his TV work, and being intimately familiar with the story and characters also helped. While I wasn’t too crazy about the book itself, I thought the narration and audio production values were well done.