Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Book Review: Alien Hunter by Whitley Strieber

Whitley Strieber doesn't get the credit he deserves. His book Communion from the late 80s was a huge bestseller. It was published as non-fiction because Mr. Strieber claims the events depicted in the novel are based on his real experiences with extra-terrestrials. Whether or not you believe he's tell the truth, one thing that is clear to me is how well-written it is. And this goes for all his books, fiction and non-fiction alike. 

Before Communion and still to this day Whitley Strieber is also the author of numerous works of fiction. Most of these novels are either horror or science-fiction. Before Communion, he had success with a few novels like The Hunger and The Wolfen. Both were made into films. During this period he was competing with guys like Stephen King and Peter Straub. Clearly he could hold his own against them.

Then when Communion came out he was huge. But there was also plenty of backlash. So despite the money he made off of that book, his sales suffered for the next twenty or so years. He continued to publish both fiction and non-fiction, but few payed attention.

Sometime in the mid-2000s Strieber made a comeback. Books like 2012: The War For Souls and The Grays presented a new energy. They're novels of fiction based on events and concepts Strieber believes in and considers important but can't present factually. Since then, each new novel seems to be selling better and become more available in stores. This is the period where Strieber really hooked me.

Alien Hunter is a new novel by the rejuvenated Whitley Strieber. It's about a police detective named Flynn Carroll who is recruited into a secret police unit after his wife vanishes without a trace. This is the first novel in the Alien Hunter series, Stieber's first series. It should appeal to fans of horror, sci-fi, and crime fiction. It's written in a style similar to other mainstream thriller writers where the prose is straight to the point with breaks strategically placed to keep the reader wanting more. 

Alien Hunter is a quick and hard-hitting thriller. Since I started reading his work, I have been a huge advocate of Whitley Strieber. What he is most known for is Communion and for being an abductee. I always try my best to remind people that he's also the author of many fantastic novels. But I have to say that I was a little disappointed by his latest.

The author failed to make me really care about the main character. Flynn Caroll wasn't fleshed out enough. In other works like The Grays for example, there were many characters focused on and each one of them was fleshed out to the point where I was on the edge of my seat either rooting for them or against them. Another reason for this is because Flynn Caroll wasn't an interesting enough character. He was too dull and had no quirks of any kind that I found compelling.

Another aspect of Alien Hunter that disappointed me was how Whitley didn't take advantage of the horror and sci-fi elements of the story. In past novels Whitley has scared me shitless with his ability to create the creepiest feelings in certain scenes. Like in The Grays, where the aliens where characters themselves. They felt present even when they were not there. But he failed to bring this out here. The reader knows there are extraterrestrials around because they are told so, but don't care because we know nothing about them. 

These aspects worry me because this is supposed to be the first installment in a series. This is where the characters and such are introduced. Hopefully the second book fleshes things out more.

So all in all, I can guarantee that I will buy and read any future sequels. I just hope Whitley brings out the horror and SF elements he does so well. I have the feeling that with this new series, Whitley is trying to bring in a new audience that includes those who read guys like John Sandford and other writers in the crime/detective genre. Well hopefully he has done so to his satisfaction, allowing him to delve more into the craziness that I love so much about his fiction.

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