Cobalt Blue by Matthew Reilly

Cobalt Blue by Matthew Reilly
Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Paranormal
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

For 35 years, the United States and Russia each had their own superhero.

Three days ago, America’s hero died. Today will be bad.

In the face of an overwhelming attack, one young woman – unassuming and anonymous – might be America’s only hope.

Her codename … COBALT BLUE

An accident in the Antarctic unleashed a strange substance and the two infected individuals became the world-renown superheroes – Cobalt from America and the Fury of Russia. In the decades that have followed each have had a number of children – all superheroes in their own right, though only half as powerful as their famous parent. When Cobalt dies, the Fury storms America, devastating the entire country and wreaking havoc. Through the rubble of the damage, it appears the fate of the world rests on the slender shoulders of just one, hidden woman who has never been in the spotlight before. Cobalt Blue.

I really love Matthew Reilly’s books and this was an exceptional stand alone novel that went immediately onto my keepers shelf. With a rollicking fast pace this was an action orientated thrill of a ride and I loved every page. There are a number of moving parts to the plotline and I was really impressed how small sections of the story are in different colours and fonts to help the reader easily understand when perspectives change or something important is said from one of the other colours. There are a few (four or five I believe) colour illustrations that really helped me see and understand exactly the superhero characters that were being described. I really loved this too and it made the book feel even more special than the words and storyline itself.

I can’t say a lot about the plot without giving stuff away, but I was impressed how the main thrust of the plot was very simple – bad guy is trying to destroy the world and good guy tries to stop them – but with about a dozen or so main characters and a number of jumps back and forth in time the book was so much more layered and complicated than at first glance. I also really enjoyed how the story didn’t get bogged down with those layers either, like a good movie the pace kept up a good clip and I easily kept reading for more and more. This is a very hard book to put down.

While there are a few very small aspects to the plot that might not be teen or YA friendly, for the most part I feel this is a book that should appeal to both adults and YA/teen readers. Parents might want to read the book first just to gauge the small parts of plot that are more adult-centric, but I do feel many YA readers will really enjoy this story too.

Fast paced and with some excellent characters and plot this is a great book and one I will absolutely be reading again soon. Recommended.

Extinction Plague by Greig Beck

Extinction Plague by Greig Beck
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Horror, Action/Adventure, Paranormal
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Around the world entire towns are being wiped out, a trail of boneless bodies left behind.

Professor Matt Kearns, paleo-linguist, and a team of scientific and military specialists, rush to decipher the hidden secrets of a pair of ancient stones that prophesise the next great extinction on Earth. They soon discover that the ominous predictions are linked to a plague of unstoppable creatures that have risen from the centre of the Earth.

In a heart-pumping adventure that begins in the hold of a sunken German U-boat, Matt Kearns travels to the lost Nazi treasure tunnels in Poland and dives deep down to sunken caves below Easter Island. Matt is fighting for his life, the ones he loves, and the existence of the entire human race.

Matt Kearns, paleo-linguist, is back once again for another adventure. A Nazi-era German U-boat is discovered down in New Zealand, leading to a series of strange discoveries and all too soon all over the world swarms of bugs start devouring everything in sight – killing humans, animals and everything in it’s wake. Matt and the team need to first discover what’s going on, and then once again save the world.

I’m a huge fan of Grieg Beck’s but I admit I have a particularly soft spot for Matt Kearns and his adventures. Beck somehow keeps Matt’s stories a little lighter to my mind – and less heavily invested in all the military/ammo aspects of the storyline. With a Kearns adventure I know there will be not just science and thriller aspects with a solid and well woven plot, but usually there is an excellent dose of paranormal and a strong influence of a more intellectual/academic and research based side to the adventure. For me, personally, this hits a really good spot and I’ve never yet been disappointed by one of these stories.

And this book delivers in spades. From Nazi Germany to Easter Island, the Polish mountains and all across the globe Matt and the team piece together what’s actually happening and then fight to save the world from extinction. It’s a magnificent adventure and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I particularly liked how solidly Beck wove together a number of different plotlines. It’s clear he’s put a good amount of research into each different element and while the final picture pushes the boundaries of realism, each aspect is clearly weighted strongly in reality and is both exciting and also totally plausible.

This fine line between fact and fiction is a very delicate balance and I really love how Beck seems to straddle it perfectly. That, coupled with the adventure and scare-factor is an absolute highlight for me of all the Matt Kearns stories and one of the reasons they’re an auto-buy for me and one of my favorite series.

Readers looking for a fast paced, fun adventure novel where the hero and his team race against the clock (and where the bad guys are not just a few horrible people, but the bone-eating, creepy, bug kind) this is an excellent story and one I can strongly recommend.