The Shiva Syndrome
by Alan Joshua (Burst Books)
If you think of this book as the literary equivalent of a first-person shooter game you’d be close. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. (Add a star if you’re a fan of classic DOOM.)
The setup: The American military comes to get Beau Walker. His assignment? His commander, Burton Grimes, a black ops NSA spook, won’t tell him why. Walker is dropped into a half-mile-deep crater created by the remnants of a disaster in Russia that destroyed an entire city. His instructions? Investigate what the hell happened. The crater contains time distortions, mist, darkness and unusual dangers. The only way out is by his wits and skill. Cue the DOOM computer game music….
Successfully getting out of this zone of chaos is no small feat, but then the NSA puts Walker into a secure black ops military lab—cue the Half-Life music!—from which he has to escape. Included in an action scene is a predictably exploding barrel of toxic waste, no doubt as a tribute to the classic DOOM game.
The game, I mean the book concludes in an hallucinogenic haze, complete with a shaman and views of the afterlife. (Cue the trans-dimensional scene from 2001, A Space Odyssey.)
In the end, I felt that Walker was too perfect. He had no flaws, except for perhaps being a bit too trusting. Walker was born with super powers like being able to read emotions by touching, and after the crater ordeal, it expanded his powers so that he could manipulate matter. Grimes as an antagonist was better than a cardboard villain, and his military motive of sacrificing Walker for the greater good was at least understandable. It was not a waste of time to read this, but it was not exactly the Hunt for Red October.
I’d classify this as a fun, light beach read for guys. And yes, Walker did get the girl.
– Brian Thies for Abyss & Apex