Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: Anoxic Zone by John G Rees

The term “anoxic zone” refers to “an oxygen-depleted region in a marine environment,” according to In this novel, the anoxic zone in question is in the Black Sea. According to author John R Rees, the anoxic zone “occurs naturally at depths greater than 200 meteres [and] has no oxygen to support life or accelerate decay. This creates a unique environment for the preservation of ancient shipwrecks, as well as modern day detritus.” 

When I first picked up Anoxic Zone I had no idea what the term meant or how it would be used within the context of the novel, but I have to admit I was definitely intrigued. I hadn’t heard about anything like it before so I was eager to dive right in (pardon the pun). Plus, the synopsis offered some supernatural hints as to who, or what, the main characters were. Take a looksie at the description from the back cover and see if you get an inkling as to what they are:

This is the tale of two men, who become service personnel for Megacorp, a multi-national corporation that operates under its own laws. The dark cadre is brought back to life to maintain the infrastructure of a narcissistic, self-involved culture at the end of the industrial age. Chosen for their skills, Jake, a commercial diver, and Johnny, a scientist, have been friends for over one hundred years. Human curiosity and human nature conspire to have our friends discover just what they are; the whys and hows of how they came to be.

In the course of this discovery they release evil that spawned their kind, which had been imprisoned and used by Megacorp in a most despicable manner.

Their adventure takes them from Hawaii to Romania and the Black Sea, as Jake and John struggle to accept what they have become while trying to keep the evil from the hands of Megacorp and return it to the darkness of its birth.

This novel definitely has a lot going on, from Jake and John’s initial discovery of what they are to their escape from Megacorp to encountering their “maker” to plotting how to destroy him. Don’t let the slim tome, coming in at just under 300 pages, fool you -  author Rees has packed a lot of action into this novel! That’s not to say it is convoluted, by any means. The pacing of the story is quick and just keeps drawing you in as you get further and further into the story. I ravenously drank it up!

I also love that author Rees has set the book in a not-too-distant future where people have become lazy and prefer that menial and/or dangerous labor be done by a part of the population called “reusables”…kinda sounds like the current state of things, no? Rees also borrows from several different genres to complete Anoxic Zone, too. There is futuristic sci-fi, a bit of noir, a lot of historical facts, a touch of romance, gore, action and horror…pretty much a little bit of everything!

The locations vary as much as the tone of novel. We start off in Hawaii, then move to the unearthly underwater world, then to the bustling ports of Romania and eventually to the Carpathian mountains…with many other stops in-between! Rees effortlessly captures the atmosphere of each location in the novel and brings them to life. I especially loved the descriptions of the crumbling, centuries-old castle in the most remote region of the Carpathian mountains.

I loved the characterizations of our two lead characters, Jake and John, and their transformations over the years as they embrace what they really are. If you haven’t guessed already by their old age, they are vampires, though I don’t think the word “vampire” is ever mentioned in the book! Megacorp has made them and many others like this, calling them “reusables” and using them for dangerous or life-threatening work. Jake can dive to depths far further than any human ever could and also go without air for longer. John can test out disease, viruses, etc. on himself to see their effects but won’t die from these experiments. Yet, when they both discover their true nature and the true extent of their abilities they attract the attention of a notorious (and historical) Count who spawned their race…and wants revenge on those that have used him. John and Jake go from lowly “reusables” to realizing their power and becoming the pupils of their “master,” until he takes things too far and John and Jake turn against him.

And the “master” himself is quite a force to be reckoned with. Rees draws from a well-known historical figure (the very ruler who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula) to create a menacing and scary villain that still elicits awe from the two main characters as well as the reader.

Anoxic Zone is a very unique, nontraditional vampire tale that I couldn’t put down! It is a thrilling, exciting read that tries something new with the tired vampire genre…and succeeds! If you get a chance, I highly recommend picking up John G Rees Anoxic Zone!

Order it from Amazon!

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