Contest

ContestThe other book I read before the resurrection of the computer was Contest by Matthew Reilly.  The back reads:

Dr. Stephen Swain has found himself locked in the after-hours darkness of the New York Public Library. It isn’t a mistake. He’s been entombed in the historic sanctuary for a reason—as the guest of an unknown host, chosen for a night of fun and games. He’s unprepared. He’s afraid. And he’s not alone. Six other contestants roam the black halls, room by room, floor by floor, in the dead silence. Each strapped with an explosive set to detonate should they escape before the night is over. The terms are simple: seven players enter—only one will leave.

I believe that this is Reilly’s first novel. It was published by Macmillan in 2000. He purposefully writes action stories that are supposed to be fast-paced. For example, the main character’s wife is dead. We don’t learn anything else about her or her death or whatever so the story isn’t bogged down with irrelevant backstory. What the reader needs to know are just the facts that represent the play-by-play. And even though we do not develop any deep relationship-bond with any of the characters, the reader can still enjoy the plot. Unfortunately, there are some writing choices that don’t make much sense. Reilly focuses on about three of the seven contestants. The other four are brief mentions, rare appearances, and drive-by events. This makes the reader wonder – if Reilly wanted to write a fast-paced book and only wanted to deal with 4 or 5 characters, why have so many contestants? Also, it annoyed me that the selection of the library for the place of the contest was random. I felt there should have been a reason given as to why it was selected over many other “labyrinths.”

None of the above really bothered me. What bothered me were the aliens. Yes. Aliens. So you think you’re reading something out of a true crime, police procedural, mystery novel – and then BAM! – aliens. And not a nice variety of them either. The contestants are all aliens and are nothing but beastly monsters. They aren’t really precision killers, they just maul their prey in bloodbaths. I wasn’t real happy to be reading sci-fi suddenly. I love science fiction, but I didn’t pick a sci-fi book on purpose.

2 stars

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