Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review – "The Breach" and "Ghost Country" by Patrick Lee

Travis Chase Series
Patrick Lee
1. The Breach (2009)
2. Ghost Country (2011)

The Breach
Patrick Lee
Harper
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 9780061584459
384 pp.
Publication Date: December 2009



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The other day I received Ghost Country, the second book in the Travis Chase series, as an Advance Readers Copy in exchange for a review. (Shout out to the Early Readers program at LibraryThing.com for the opportunity.) Looking through my “to read” pile, which is more of a wall than a heap, I noticed that I already owned a copy of The Breach, the first book in this series, and it was in queue to be read soon. Needless to say it went to the top of the pile. I had to read the series in order, you see. I’m delighted to report that both books were a pleasure to read. The Breach, Patrick Lee’s debut novel and the first book in the series, is a fascinating and engrossing read from start to finish and the premise is decidedly unique and vastly creative.

Thirty years ago, in a buried government think-tank beneath the wastelands of Wyoming, an experiment went terribly wrong. During the process a mysterious fissure opened into an impossible unknown. Is there an incredibly distant alien universe on the other side? Or is the breach a conduit from one section of space to another? No one is sure but what they do know is that mysterious gadgets and scientific anomalies have begun to appear through the rift. They range from the mundane to the improbable. Medical guns that cure disease and injury with a touch, foot-long dishrags that weigh 25,000 pounds and defy the laws of nature, and other items so dangerous a secret organization is developed to hide and protect them. But, when Travis Chase, an ex-con with a checkered past, stumbles upon the wreckage of a crashed aircraft the world he once knew is changed forever and he begins to understand how dangerous the breach may be. When Travis rescues a breach operative being tortured near the plane crash he is pulled into the secret world of a conspiracy like no other.

Patrick Lee has an uncanny ability for building great Science Fiction stories. Period. That he incorporates elements of conspiracy theory, murder mystery, spy thrillers, intrigue, and future/alien technology into the mix is pure bonus for the reader. (Note: I’m not convinced the technology is alien or from our own future yet. There are other possibilities which I hope will be explained in later installments.) That Lee’s premises and plot twists are eerily believable and skirt the edge of our own technological advances borders on the genius and his story will keep the average reader not only engrossed but totally entertained. You’ll be on the edge of your seat anticipating the “what’s next” surprise through the entire story. And that’s not even the best part…

What’s really intriguing to me are the possibilities Lee presents and the places The Breach may ultimately take us. What or who is on the other side of the breach and why are they sending bits and pieces of their technology through it? Are the artifacts alien? Or are they from our own distant future? Are we depositing our treasures to preserve them from eminent collapse? Hopefully, Mr. Lee will eventually explain it to us all… ten or twelve books from now. This is, for me, a captivating series full of credible technological advancements that are just half-a-step out of synch from our own. Ideas like these are the reason we have micro-wave ovens, lasers, and communication satellites. They are the reason we advance scientifically. Keep up the great work Mr. Lee and I’ll keep spreading the good word to anyone who’ll listen.

4 out of 5 stars



The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Ghost Country
Patrick Lee
Harper
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN 9780061584442
384pp.
Publication Date: January 2011


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It’s not often that the second book in a series exceeds the first but in this case Patrick Lee has outdone himself. Ghost Country is every bit as good as its predecessor and exceeds it on a number of different levels. Foremost, I have to mention that the plot twist to this story is both mind-blowing and immeasurably intelligent and the main reason that I give the second book a higher rating then the first.

Curious technology has passed through the breach into our world for decades. The most recent device is an artifact (hole-punching flashlight) that opens a fissure seventy years into our own future. [Think of it as Breach2.] The only problem is that once you stick your head in and glimpse the future you come back scared out of your mind. Everything on the other side is dead. Buildings are crumbling, wild animals roam the streets, and mankind has disappeared. Worse, newspaper accounts found on the dead side of the hole reveal that Bleak December, the time when the entire world begins to unravel, is only two months away [in real time.] Travis Chase along with Tangent operatives Paige and Bethany must head into that dead world and unravel the mystery to what happened to the world this coming December.

Again, this is a solid performance by Patrick Lee and the premise is both captivating and frightening in its complexity and realism. My hat goes off to Patrick Lee who’s created and delivered a sophomore story that surpasses his debut. If you haven’t read The Breach or Ghost Country yet I highly recommend that you do so. If you’re anything like me you’ll be a fan in fewer than five pages.

4 ½ stars out of 5

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional reading:

Author Sites

Patrick Lee Biography

Author Website

The Breach

SF Signal Review (The Breach)

John Scalzi’s “Whatever” on The Breach

YouTube Book Trailer

Tor.com Review of The Breach

Patrick Lee Interview

Ghost Country

Harper/Collins Ghost Country Page

SF Signal Review (Ghost Country)

Buried Under Books Review

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