Friday, April 19, 2013

2 Heart Review: Fire of the Raging Dragon by Don Brown

Fire of the Raging Dragon (Pacific Rim #2)
Don Brown

Page Count: 381

Release Date: 20 November 2012
Publisher: Zondervan (HarperCollins)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

His country... or his daughter?

In the very near future, China, now the world's largest industrial producer and consumer of Mideast Oil, passes a law that all new cars manufactured in that nation will be operated on natural gas. Beneath the floor of the South China Sea, around the contested Spratly Islands, billions of gallons of natural gas wait to be mined. But at the center of the Spratlys, the remote but strategic island of Itu Aba is occupied by China's historic enemy, Taiwan.

When the new, power-hungry Chinese President, Tang Qhichen, orders Chinese Naval forces to attack Taiwanese forces on Itu Aba, U.S. President Douglas Surber responds, ordering the U.S. Seventh Fleet to try and quell a burgeoning naval showdown between the two Chinas. Aboard the submarine tender U.S.S. Emory S. Land, one of the first ships in the naval war zone, is Ensign Stephanie Surber, a recent Naval Academy graduate who is also the First Daughter of the United States. As the Emory S. Land steams into harm's way, Ensign Surber's life is gravely threatened. The President must make a decision. Will he take a stand against evil? Or will he save the life of his daughter?

Review


Heavy on US history, Chinese government, the military, and current American politics, Fire of the Raging Dragon was not an easy book for me. It's well written and well researched but lacks fluidity and definitely isn't composed in layman's terms. I have to be honest: a lot of what I read just passed over my head. I didn't know what I was reading, which may be more a demonstration of my horrendous lack of knowledge on anything to do with the Navy, than a critique on the author's style.

I did not like the tone, probably why I couldn't get into this second installment of the Pacific Rim series. It's very emotionally detached and dry. All I remember of it is a jumble of sentences; I felt dyslexic for about 230 pages, then I finally succumbed and had to put it down. I was a bit intimidated, and thoroughly distressed, as this was the first book I've ever reviewed that I haven't been able to finish. I am disappointed in myself because usually I'm a very determined reader and usually have no problem finishing and heavily criticizing a book I didn't like, but I'm also patting myself on the back for even getting through three-fifths of it. This was not easy on me!

The riveting legal dilemma surrounding recent smoking-gun evidence on a previously only-rumored black market did impress me, though. The crimes against humanity and dismissal of human rights demonstrates the horrific lengths some people would do for money under the Communist rule. Further, the US's dependence on China leaves the country in stalemate; President Surber can either address a moral issue and get his daughter back, or cut diplomatic ties with China forever—leaving his country to ruin.

Faith in the Lord is a big topic in Don Brown's novel, but it's not overly preachy. Aside from the random shouts to God during attack or fighting scenes, the Christian aspect hardly bothered me. There's also a misplaced (and unrequited) romance between Stephanie and hotpants Commander Bobby Roddick. Not sure why this had to be included, seemed strange for a Christian "man's novel," but it's the only thing I could even remotely connect to.

Pros


Realistic, expert political setting // A sure hit for US Armed Forces and Chinese government enthusiasts

Cons


Hard to understand most of it // Dense // Unintelligible political and military slang, including coordinates and commands that sounded like code... and in fact were code // Stylistically unimpressive // Very very very slow-paced

Verdict


On top of the advanced legislative lingo, there are various related characters and subplots in Fire of the Raging Dragon, rather than one solid story; these are extremely confusing and hard to keep track of. Unless you're like the author and have served in the Navy or have some other design of substantial experience, you'll have trouble following it too. I can think of many people whom this book would have thrilled, but unfortunately I am not one of them. The only military stories I seem to be able to handle are the ones with the chiseled abs of emotionally damaged but rock-hard soldier heroes *swoon* Americanflag

2 hearts: Not completely a lost cause, but could not finish; I did not enjoy this book (x)