Saturday, 5 April 2014

Blood Apocalypse: Monster Squad by Heath Stallcup

So, this is the fourth chapter of the Monster Squad series, in this Heath Stallcup brings us to the finale of the Big Battle with the Sicarri, the oldest, scariest vampire. There will be some spoilers in this review and there is  going to be quite a bit of moaning too. 

The buildup was great as all the MS personnel are slowing bringing different “good” monsters into the fold, the strategy in planning the big battle is pretty awesome, even for a non military lay person like myself, HS does well to explain the technicalities without boring me stupid, but has enough guns, ammo and “shop” talk  please most hardcore nuts.

Some of the new inventions were pretty amazing and well thought out.

The mixture of monsters was good and I really loved the introduction of some critters like the Gargoyles, I do hope that Grimlock makes another appearance soon, but feel they could have been explained more in this book too, not just literally popped up out of the ground, do something very minor then fly away.

The Laura Youngblood storyline did not feel true or well thought out to me, would she be able to leave so suddenly? And I saw no evidence of the burn out she claimed to have. I can understand that the Tufo character needed to have a place in the chain of command but surely a squad of this size and nature could have had a hands on CO and a more background caretaker role which is all she seemed to have for me anyway.  

That said, all the humour comes from Tufo,  and his facial hair and the dead squirrel piece had me giggling for ages.

There was an immense love story wrapped up in the middle of all this with some really intense sex scenes, but to end it so suddenly also felt rushed, and I felt cheated out of a good showdown between two amazing characters.

The final battle, hmmmm…what happened? It just sort of went pop with no bang. I would have loved this section of the book to be so much bigger, all that build up to such a damp squib.

The Sicarri was supposed to be some major player, some intense bad guy. So surely he had his own Generals, if so where were they? where was all his planning?  He just came across as a broody old man with no actual power. At the pinnacle of the battle the vamps were just allowed to just basically charge into a (excuse the pun) bloodbath annihilation. There was no sense of drama for me, no suspense element, so seat of my chair edge to the battle, it seemed very one sided.

The only element of danger seemed to come from the (rolls eyes) “Jolly Hockey Sticks British Bloke” trying to kill someone on the good side.

Then there is poor Dominic who spends 99% of this book trying to remember something, when he finally does a) it was not fully explained why it’s so important b) it was destroyed as an afterthought c) did not appear to be that important to start with.

Lots of little threads of future stories were strung out but I felt that this main one, that started in book 2, just went nowhere.

The writing is, as always, flawless in my opinion and I really enjoyed reading it, I just felt that it was rushed out to quick with not enough beta reading feedback (for those of you unsure of what this is – basically a  small group of people that give their opinion on the book before it gets published, to iron out any inconsistencies, timeline or story errors).

So, am I still a Monster Squad fan… yes of course I am, 100%. The monsters are still there, the squad is basically hubba hubba, the humour is brilliant and the scope for great stories and spin offs is immense. 

Heath Stallcup is a phenomenal author and has some amazing ideas, just in my opinion he needs to slow down a little, make use of his skills and not disappoint his fan base, maybe even utilize them more.  Even the great SK has had his duds, and yes I would put HS up there with him.

Final, overall opinion; well worth a read but remember that HS is still learning his art and that all reviews are good reviews!