Monday, November 30, 2015

RELEASE DATE BOOK REVIEW! Hellmaw: Dragon Dreams by Chris A. Jackson

Aleksi is feeling the crunch of grad school, but thanks to a new adviser and project that promises an exciting dissertation, suddenly things seems to be going her way. Her new advisor, Dr. "Hutch" Hutchinson, is generous, attentive, and engaging with all his students. Aleksi has always been a hard worker, and this project he's come to her with is right up her alley.
But there's something hidden in the fossils she's examining. A journal, explaining why this particular sample isn't what it's been documented to be. There's almost nothign left but a few teeth, and all the imaging they get suggests this is a creature no one's ever seen before.
Then Aleksi starts having dreams. Blood, meat, people screaming. Hunting. Aleksi is changing, and so is Derrick, another grad student who has been trying to horn in on her project. But he's not quite turning into what she is. There's something very wrong with Derrick. It just doesn't smell right.
She may not be human any more, but Aleksi doesn't think Derrick was human to begin with.

That's my summary. Here's the ones I pulled from amazon

Bestselling author Chris Jackson brings us the second HELLMAW novel, an up-close-and-personal exploration of what happens at university when brilliant researchers uncover far more than they were expecting. Will it be murder, daemons, dragons, or love?

Jackson's book is set in a modern-day Harvard, and his research shows through in the technological processes Aleksi and her partners (especially Bob) go through. I'm not a paleontologist-- in fact, I'm just not very science-y at all) but even I was able to follow, at least in theory, what was going on in the labs. There was very little in the way of world-building, other than to familiarize myself with a place I've never been to. That left my brain's adjusting free to take in all that technobabble I mentioned a moment ago.

It was very easy to sink into Jackson's writing. Even more satisfying is his subtlety, particularly in character development. The small changes in Aleksi's behavior, as the physiological transformation went on, were perfect. Tiny things happened one might not notice at first-- especially Aleksi herself-- but as the book went on, they became more and more apparent. This book was origami, or a delicate piece of lace, or a fine painting-- every detail in its place, and I fully believe that if I were to read it again, I'd notice even deeper details I hadn't spotted the first time.

My Thoughts
I can honestly say that this book was a crescendo, from beginning to end. I was hooked from the start, riding along on Aleksi's excitement (and her perils at the hands of her original adviser). Once the project began, the developments of it intrigued my own curiosity. I wanted Aleksi to work herself to the bone finding these answers. But it was nearing the halfway point that the plot exploded. Even then, though, things progressed like a fire creeping across a field. It kept growing faster the longer it went. The further I read in this book, the less I wanted to put it down. It was perfectly paced, in my opinion, though I can see how some would probably consider it slow or even boring at first. This was a downhill roller coaster the whole way, getting faster as we neared the end. All in all, reading this book was a great experience.

Would I Recommend This Book? Absolutely! I loved the slow build and explosion of plot that Jackson achieved with this book. It was engaging from start to finish, and I had the whole nail-biting, yelling at the book when bad things happen experience here. There was even a particularly appalling moment that he diffused with shocking relief. This was just a plain out great book. I give Hellmaw: Dragon Dreams a carnivorous 5 of 5 stars!

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