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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
Downrigger Drift - James Axler Amusing bit of trivia. Golden Eagle Publishing, publisher of the Deathlands series, is a division of ... wait for it, Harlequin Enterprises LTD. Heh.

Downrigger Drift is one in a loooong series of books following a group of adventures in post-apocalyptic America. As per its 1986, Cold War-esque origin, the world-destroying calamity is a nuclear strike by the Russians.

The book is what it is. Pure action adventure. It's an easy, approachable read despite the fact that it is book sixty-something (?) and this is my first exposure to the series. Most notable is the fact that I actually can remember all six adventurers--unusual. Typically, my wee little brain forgets names quickly. Especially, with a novel like this one, which is fun, but ultimately forgettable. The team is lead by one-eyed Ryan Cawdor, the main POV character. Then there's his girlfriend, Krysty, who, besides being good with a gun, has sentient hair. J.B., The Armorer, is the obligatory weapons expert. His main squeeze is Mildred, a woman who was somehow transported from our time to this future. Doc, another time traveler, hails from the 1800s, and is the brains of the operation (when he's cogent, that is). Jak is an albino youth with an almost supernatural ability with throwing knives.

The team hops from one "mat-trans" unit to another, never quite knowing where they'll end up next. It's sort of reminiscent of Sliders, Quantum Leap or perhaps Stargate. At each new locale, they battle mutants, cannibals and other unfriendly denizens of Deathlands. The story, consequently, feels like a long episode in a television series.

The action never lets up. The instant the team materializes in the mat-trans unit, they are beset by mutant pig-rats. The story never slows down, never gets dull.

The problem with the story is that all that action feels kind of meaningless. This may be a function of reading the tale-end of a long running series. Perhaps, if I had read earlier books, I'd feel like I was visiting old friends. As I noted above, the characterization isn't bad for this kind of story. But I don't think the narrative ever explains why the characters are constantly moving from one mat-trans unit to another. What are they looking for? What's the point?

But if action is what you're looking for, then Downrigger Drift has got your fix. (I'd rate the action-y stuff a 5.) It gets a 3 for the sort of aimless nature of the plot.