Book Review: Jet, by Russell Blake
I don’t read action spy adventure type stuff very often. At least not contemporary shoot-em-up types. In fact, to give you a sense of how long ago it was that I read one, I think the last one I read was The Firm or The Pelican Brief or something like that. So that should tell you something. Frankly, I was as surprised I was reading one as anyone who knows me or reads my reviews might be.
I picked up Jet because it was written by Russell Blake, an indie writer who is really kicking ass and taking names these days. So despite Jet being out of my regular reading patterns, I thought: you know, I write a lot of action scenes, and, even though they typically involve either swords and crossbows or lasers and ion batons, I ought to see what the hot-selling writers are putting out.
For starters, you can’t really get any hotter than Russell Blake. He was recently tagged by Clive Cussler to carry some weight in the epic Cussler franchise with the book The Eye of Heaven, which is out for presale already. Something is obviously working for the man, so I decided to give Jet a try.
This book is action from cover to cover. It literally never stops. There might be something you could call a momentary hiatus from pure mayhem around the 45% mark, but it’s sort of a lull to get you breathing again. I might be calling it a lull because it has some romantic stuff in it, which, being a cynical old bastard like I am, I tend to skim through, but hey, that can’t be held against the book, and the last 20% or so is totally breathless. So, romance is romance. I am just impatient and want to see thugs, criminals and cartel guys get their eyes gouged out or their heads blown off.
Speaking of which, Blake clearly has a considerable body of knowledge when it comes to clandestine enterprise, and he spares no detail in painting the picture not just of the action but of the equipment and the places his hot young assassin, Jet, deals with. I don’t know if Blake just spends hours and hours in research or if he’s ex-military or maybe even one of those prepper types with a basement full of survival stuff and a head full of cool know-how. But whichever it is, the particular details are believable and give the story just the right touch of real-world connection throughout the fiction.
If you enjoy a fast-paced, in-your-face story where a hot chick is shooting, stabbing or seducing her way through one douchebag after another, Jet is a book you will enjoy.
Now I know some people who read my reviews are looking for literary reviews, you know, like “lit” type work. So just to touch on that for a moment: this book is not philosophical and artistic in some exploratory examination-of-life kind of way. But it’s also not meant to be. Or at least, I don’t think it is. Then again, what do I know? To me it’s meant to be quick, light and fun. If you need deep stuff, thoughtful paradigm-challenging stuff, grab Slaughterhouse Five or Nahoonkara (both of which I’ll be reviewing in the next week or two). Jet is not meant to blow your mind with deep epiphany. It’s meant to blow out a long airplane flight or a kick-back weekend under a tree or on a beach. It goes great with beer, which I know from personal experience.
I think another important thing to point out is that Blake is an indie writer. Which means, if you are a true believer in helping the independent businessman over the big corporate types, this is a good opportunity to see what kind of quality can come from outside the traditional avenues of publishing. The very existence of this book, and of the subsequent success of a guy like Russell Blake, stands as a shining example of the opportunities we have in the modern age. So much time is spent grousing and grumbling over economies and politics these days, but books like this and stories like Blake’s, as an author making it today, are real glass-more-than-half-full kinds of things.
I will say, that like every indie book I’ve read thus far (including my own), I think it could stand some pruning in some of its wordy parts. Even with solid proofreading, I think all of us indie authors are allowed to go a few words past the best end of our sentences here and there, or to leave in a few adverbs or adjectives that could have been trimmed off. But mostly I say that because no book is perfect, and I feel like I can’t just sing its praises without acknowledging stuff I noticed along the way. It also might just be me being a picky English major snob saying that, which I confess happens from time to time. However, even saying that, I think Jet is likely the most polished indie book I’ve seen on that front, and I’ve paid far more money for traditionally published hardbacks that were far gassier, so take all that for what it’s worth, too. And no, I’m not a traditional publishing house hater at all. I love those guys. I’m just saying, I genuinely think Jet is a shining example of what a truly free market can do. This may seem ironic, but kudos to Amazon for making it possible for talent like Blake’s to get out there and be found.
Bottom line: if you love a good shoot-em-up, espionage, hot-chick in leather pants, go-kill-all-the-assholes and score-one-for-America kind of tale, check this one out.