Monday, November 8, 2010

Overthrowing Heaven by Mark L. Van Name

Overthrowing Heaven (Jon & Lobo)
I think the third book in this series is probably the weakest so far, unfortunately. It moves along very slowly, with a ton of setup and very little action until the end. The only thing that redeems this book at all is that we get a little more insight into Lobo's history, at last. It's still a bit of light amusement to while away the lonely hours, but that's about all.

There's a monster in Heaven. Jon and Lobo are recruited to kidnap a scientist who is performing nanotech experiments on abducted children, under the cover of creating fantastic animals out of history, myth and legend for a vast amusement park, Wonder Island, that seems to be like a combination Disney World and Jurassic Park.

There are some good lines here and there, mostly spoken by Lobo, such as,
"Lovely, aerial bodyguard duty. First I get to shop, and now I get to hover in case you overeat and need immediate relief for indigestion. I feel so fulfilled."

I liked this bit of commentary, too,
"What passed for news on Vonsoir was, as is typical of most worlds, a hash of local gossip, government-created flavorless gravy for the intellectually toothless, and the occasional drop of spice..."

One thing that I find slightly annoying about the series thus far is that Jon never seems to just be able to take on a straight job, rather than getting tricked into some mission he hadn't anticipated. Why can't some of his adventures be purposive, rather than being blown willy nilly by the winds of fate into these messes? He always seems to be just relaxing, doing nothing in particular, between jobs, when someone cons or tricks him into doing more than he intended.

Another thing that I'm not thrilled with is that Jon seldom seems to use his nanomachines to do anything worthwhile. He used them to disarm some incompentent thugs in the first book, but since then we haven't really seen any new capabilities from his nanos, and that's the sort of thing I'd like to see developed a little bit in each iteration. Van Name seems to use the excuse of "if I use them, someone might figure out what I am" over and over again, but there are surely ways to use them undetectably, right?

The third thing has to do with Jon's inability to actually have a normal human relationship. He's absolutely unable to ever trust anyone, make friends, be a lover. There was an interesting little triangle that began to develop between Jon and the two female characters in this novel, and between what appears to be his cluelessness (how can anyone who's 155 years old still be that clueless?), and his trust issues, it contributed nothing new to the plot, just tiresome filler material.

I've still got the next book in the series on hold at the local library, so I'll continue to read, but this one was a bit disappointing.

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