I finished “Hail Storm” by Brett Arquette. It was a techno-thriller that I obtained as the result of a solicitation on Goodreads by the author. The premise is that a revenge-seeking techno-genius has a fleet of ships and a number of highly-developed drones capable of just about anything. For some reason, his ship is staffed by video-game teenage outcasts. He is bent on taking revenge on terrorists on the top-ten list. I had a lot of issues with this book, but I do have to admit parts of it were very enjoyable and very well done, particularly the drone strike at the conclusion of the book. He did have an outstanding video as a promotional tool.
The edition I reviewed was copyright 2016 by Brette Arquette, Classroom Edition, First Printing (Rev 3).
Here is the review I posted on Amazon:
I received an unsolicited free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I gave the book three stars because there were some aspects of the book I liked very much, and many aspects that I did not like. I must add here that techno-thrillers are a little bit out of my wheel-house, and I am an infrequent book reviewer. The positive aspects will be first.
The discussion and use of the drones in this book were very well done. I found the author’s use of drones plausible. The scenes involving drone strikes were well-written and compelling. I enjoyed the final drone strike near the end of the book. The author is well-versed in the use of drones. The use of North Korea is certainly current given recent events. The author provided a link to a promotional video. This was very well-done and is worth looking at. The video can be accessed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwGMKIeNZfA
The characters in the book are poorly developed. I found no character that I could identify with in any way, and the characters seemed cardboard. The first emotional involvement I had with the book came when the main character, Hail, was running a drone strike in North Korea. A North Korean guard comes close to seeing the drone, and Hail must face the moral dilemma of whether or not to kill him. That was a great example of “show, don’t tell,” and the book needed a lot more of that to make sure the reader is invested enough in the story to continue reading. Outside of the main two characters in the book, none of the minor characters were memorable.
The story is a little bit preposterous and difficult to believe as well. The story is interrupted with long technical discussions about the drones and nuclear power that could have been condensed. There are also needless details about the restaurants and the shopping mall on Hail’s container ship that added nothing to the story. I found the cute comments on naming military operations a bit tiresome. There is a lot (probably too much for me) backstory. I found the backstory on “The Five” was only presented after the unexplained term “The Five” was used at least twice without explanation.
In summary, I believe this book has possibilities and some readers will find it entertaining. The concluding drone strike is particularly well done. I hope the author is able to develop stronger characters and prune the needless technical details in future books. The author is imaginative, and is at home with technical details. I have a feeling future efforts will be stronger.