The Arcadian returns to the dark ice in a reprisal of one of his first and most deadly missions. But this time the stakes couldn't be higher.
In 2008, a top secret US submarine went missing on its test voyage off the coast of Antarctica. After years silent, its emergency beacon is suddenly activated, but strangely, the beacon is emanating from a point miles below the ice sheets of the frozen continent.
The race is on. The Chinese government, alerted at the same time as the Americans, is after the submarine's secrets. And the Americans need to retrieve their technology, quickly and quietly, from a place now marked as an international forbidden zone.
With the reluctant assistance of petrobiologist Aimee Weir, Alex Hunter and his team of HAWCs return to the location of their first mission together.
But only a few members of the team know the truth. A treacherous horror lies in wait for them, deep beneath the Antarctic ice.
When I first heard that Beck was returning to the world that he had explored so well in Beneath the Dark Ice I was initially skeptical. Why would he go down that path again? Would he do it justice? Or was Kraken Rising doomed to fail from the start. Well, after ripping through it in one sitting (and annoying my wife by keeping my bedside light on until the early hours of the morning) I can safely say the following.
Kraken Rising is Beck's best work yet.. and the Arcadian is back.
I loved absolutely everything in this book, from it's off the hook action sequences and spine tingling encounters right through to the moments of pure primordial terror. Kraken Rising not only hits all of the markers for a great action story, it also scares the living shit out of you as you read. One of Beck's greatest skills as a writer is his ability to explore our greatest fears and to build suspense. The further I got into Kraken Rising the higher the stakes got, and at one stage I had to put the book down for a minute just to take a breather from the insane and terrifying encounters with the monster (a gigantic and super intelligent cephalopod/orthocone with a taste for humans). Add to this mix the threat of nuclear war, and a showdown between the navies of the United States and China off Antartica, and you have the recipe for what is simply an amazing story. The military hardware and tech that was also explored in Kraken Rising blew my mind. Super soldiers, genetic engineering, body armour that would make Tony Stark jealous, advanced weaponry, and secret submarines all leap out from the pages as you read, and make Kraken Rising even more addictive and explosive (one particular scene where the monster assaults a Chinese naval vessel was just INSANE). What makes this book unforgettable however is Alex Hunter. The Arcadian. The original super soldier. The best. How Beck has handled his evolution over this series has been nothing short of impressive, and I adored the subtle nuances and layers to his character that have slowly started to appear and come to prominence throughout the last few books (having a child, dealing with the psychotic side of his mind, etc). His showdown with the monster reminded me of Brody taking on the shark in Jaws, or Dutch facing off against the Predator. It had that same level of excitement, tension, and awesomeness. All in all this story gripped me from the opening page and just refused to let go. And now, days afterwards, I'm still googling about things Beck mentions throughout the book (sightings of giant squids, fossils, boats and planes going missing with no trace, strange sounds heard from the depths, etc). That's how much of an impact it had.
Kraken Rising is military horror at its absolute finest, and I would recommended it to anyone with a heartbeat and a functioning brain!
5 out of 5 stars.
A review copy was provided.