BOOK REVIEW: A Jar of Wasps by Luis Villazon
Posted by phlambler on June 24, 2012
Ok, this has to be a first for us here at Geek Syndicate, a novel about the adventures of a geologist, you know, the rock guys. People for whom the movement of tectonic plates over millennia can cause a rush of blood to the head.
So, how do you make that world into an action packed, page turning novel which will have you speculating all the way to the end? Well read on and I’ll tell you.
Described as a geo-thriller, A Jar of Wasps opens with us in the house of Graham, your average geologist about town, as he receives a package containing a mysterious rock. Within five minutes we are left with a dead body, a police raid and the menace of two secret agents (though whose side they are on is another matter) who will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Well, actually the story opens on the top of an exploding volcano but we’ll come to that in a bit.
Graham is whisked off into a world of international intrigue as he tries to find out where the mystery rock came from and why hundreds more are crashing to earth from space. Dragged along by the sexy but dangerous Seraphina, Graham is on a mission to save the planet and we’re not talking recycling tin cans here. All that he needs to do is stay alive long enough to do it as he is chased by trained killers.
Villazon is a debut author with a unique tale to tell. Released as an e-book, A Jar of Wasps is a fun read with a cheeky style of writing throughout and some great one liners. Think a young Douglas Adams for humour and you’re probably not too far off track. The pacing is good as you are whisked across the globe as well as back and forth through the story’s timeline (each chapter opens up ‘fast forward 2 hours 20 minutes’ or ‘rewind 7 minutes 31 seconds’). It keeps the action flowing and allows key plot points to be revealed over time. Saying that though, I found myself lost at points as we changed not only time and location but point of view meaning I had to re-read sections as I worked out which character was talking to us.
The characters, whilst clichéd (but that was part of the fun), are well developed and we have a great mixture of kick ass special agents, nerdy rock guys and a love interest or two along the way. I found myself rooting for Graham throughout, hoping that our everyday hero would eventually save the day despite everything kicking off around him.
It was a shame then, with the development of some great characters, that a number of threads were just left to fizzle out come the end of the book. We finish where we started from, atop an exploding volcano, told you we’d get back to that, with a climax that left me feeling deflated. It’s a very clever ending, as a concept, but there was a good fifty pages of untold story (what happened to character x, how did the relationship with character y work out) which I wanted to see. I’d invested in these people and I wanted a pay off that just didn’t come.
Overall, a fun read with some great characters but the ending just didn’t live up to the rest of the book and I just felt frustrated.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
GS Reporter: Phlambler