I’ve seen Australian thriller writer Matthew Reilly’s novels around for a number of years now and even used to own a few of them I never got around to reading. However, I recently came across HELL ISLAND, a slim little volume that was written originally for the Australian government to give away in an effort to promote reading, as Reilly explains in his introduction. At 30,000 words or so, it seemed worth taking the chance, especially since it features one of Reilly’s series heroes, Marine Captain Shane Schofield.
The plot is fairly simple: the U.S. aircraft carrier Nimitz has stopped at a remote Pacific research station known as Hell Island, and something has gone terribly wrong. Four teams of high-level operatives – Delta Force, Navy SEALS, 82nd Airborne, and Force Recon Marines (the latter commanded by Schofield) – are parachuted in to find out what happened and set it right. Chaos ensues.
Or to boil it down even more, to only four words: Apes with machine guns.
If that doesn’t get your blood to pumping, well, then . . . you’re not a 12-year-old boy at heart, I suppose. I am, at least some of the time, and so I really wanted to like this book. It has plenty of action, some of the characters are interesting, and it reads fast. However, Reilly’s frantic, hyper-kinetic writing style, with its abundance of italics and exclamation points, didn’t really work that well for me. I found just enough intriguing in HELL ISLAND that I might read something else by Reilly. It may take a while for me to get around to it, though. If you’re already a fan of his work I’m sure you’ll want to read this one, too, or if you’d just like to sample it, this is a good way to do that.