Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Project Northwoods by Jonathan Charles Bruce

Arthur Lovelass is an aspiring super villain but in a world where acts of villainy and heroics are heavily regulated and even scheduled being a villain means ensuring the success of a hero. After his latest proposal is rejected for being infallible and he's denied his villain license once again, Arthur decides to strike back through a petty act of vandalism only to witness the first maneuver in a deadly conspiracy.

Project Northwoods is an amusing, dramatic story with memorable characters and fantastic world building. It's written in an interesting style that's visually descriptive with a focus on action. There are numerous fight scenes that are well choreographed and detailed. The dialogue is sprinkled with amusing and witty one liners. It's somewhat reminiscent of a screenplay in the sense that I imagine it could easily be adapted into a graphic novel, television series or film.

There is a large cast of characters and the story is told from multiple points of view with fluid transitions grouped into sections that are labeled by sigils as villain or hero. Narration is in third person omniscient which I rarely come across so it took me a while to adjust to the style.

I loved the world building in this story. It flips various tropes from super hero stories in a way that surpasses a simple parody by forging its own identity and reality. I liked how much detail was given to the society's structure such as the government model, laws and their enforcement. I also liked that there was diversity among the characters in terms of their powers, competence, mind set, and gender.

I adored the underlying social commentary on the ambiguity of good and evil especially when the story began exploring concepts such as conformity, government, war, and genocide. The alternate parallel war history was interesting with the incorporation of supernatural elements. These components gave the story a darker intensity that was unexpected but I enjoyed how it added depth to the story and heightened the tension.

I don't know the exact word count but I would estimate Project Northwoods to be the length of about three average books at 80,000 words a piece. Definitely getting your money's worth but the length and complexity seemed to enhance rough spots that arose occasionally. Mainly issues that can be contributed to a large cast and the descriptive nature of the story. Though it was distracting at times I found that my investment in the characters and story enabled me to forgive these rough patches.

Project Northwoods is an ambitious novel that blends humor with drama to create a vivid and engaging story where heroes and villains are difficult to tell apart.

[Note: I won my initial copy of this book through a blog giveaway from Shay West's blog. I have since personally purchased it.]

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