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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pandora's Temple by Jon Land (REVIEW & GIVEAWAY)

When reviewing a book I generally avoid talking about the mechanics of the book itself - the layout, the format, the editing, etc. - since most if that is rarely the author's fault. However, there are books where the formatting is such an impediment to enjoying the story, that I feel the need to call it out. Such is the case with Pandora's Temple, which looked like a direct conversion of a PDF print layout, complete with lines that arbitrary break in the middle of the page, and hyphenated words resulting from physical margins that don't exist within an EPUB.

I found myself challenged to find a flow with so many visual distractions, which is a shame because the story was quite enjoyable - so much so, in fact, I plan to give it a second, more leisurely read in paperback. Anybody who knows how rare it is for me to give a book a second read will appreciate the significance of that.

I've heard Jon Land most often compared to the likes of Clive Cussler, which is a bit of an unfair comparison. While both write formulaic adventures with charismatic leading men, Cussler has a more grounded, realistic feel to his novels. Anybody expecting the same from Land will find themselves severely challenged, if not disappointed. Based on what I've read (and I've cued up a pair of his other titles for a read), he seems to be more extreme in pushing the boundaries of disbelief, almost cartoon-like in his imagination, making a comparison to the likes of Matthew Reilly or James Rollins much more apt.

It is Blaine McCracken, the roguish hero who plays by his own rules, who makes the novel work. Very much grounded in the action hero mold of the 80s, he's an intriguing character with a wry sense of humour. Definitely eccentric, but immensely likeable from the start, he's the kind of hero who you can very well imagine having a few drinks with after a long, hard day of saving the world.

Surrounding Blaine is an action-packed, fast-paced story with some exceptionally well-choreographed action scenes. It's a novel that has big-budget Hollywood thriller written all over it - with the understanding, of course, that Blaine would likely be cast as younger and more physically attractive. From a hostage rescue south of the border, to a climactic battle high atop a mountain, Pandora's Temple offers a heady mix of ancient mythology, violent robots, sea monsters, and the requisite wealthy supervillain. It's an odd story, and definitely takes a while to become comfortable with but, like the craziest of rollercoasters, it is definitely worth the ride.

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Jon Land is the critically acclaimed author of 32 books, including the bestselling series featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong that includes STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, STRONG JUSTICE, STRONG AT THE BREAK, STRONG VENGEANCE (July 2012) and STRONG RAIN FALLING (August 2013). He has more recently brought his long-time series hero Blaine McCracken back to the page in PANDORA’S TEMPLE (November 2012). He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

www.jonlandbooks.com
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GIVEAWAY

Mr. Land has generously offered a copy of his previous novel, The Omega Command, in which a space shuttle is destroyed during flight, and the CIA recalls disgraced agent Blaine McCracken to uncover the people responsible, to one lucky reader (in the ebook format of the winner's choosing).

Just leave a comment below to be entered, and I'll draw a winner Friday morning, with hopes (but no guarantees) of a Christmas delivery.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for your honest thoughts and review. Great post!!

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  2. I'm sorry that you found such trouble reading it - if you had let me know we could have fixed the file for you. Hopefully, next time.

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    1. Sorry, Gina - it never occurred to me to ask for a different file (I just assumed the formatting was what it was). For what it's worth, I did omit the formatting comments from my Amazon / Barnes & Noble reviews.

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  3. I sympathize with the problems you encountered on the formatting. That certainly detracted from your enjoyment of the book. Still, I thought your review was shrewd, well-thought out, and fair. Makes me think you're going to enjoy my Caitlin Strong Texas Ranger maybe a bit more than my McCracken books. No worries, because the next Caitlin adventure, STRONG RAIN FALLING, releases next August and, assuming we don't encounter the same formatting issues, I predict you're going to love it! Thanks for covering PANDORA in the meantime!

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    1. Thanks, Jon - definitely looking forward to another read!

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