FULL DISCLOSURE – Jack and I are blogging buddies. He gave me an advanced review copy of his eBook, but did not pay me or beat me into the agreement to review the book. He requested only that I read the book and give an honest opinion of it during the week of its release. I agreed because I wanted to read the book before everyone else. Suckers!
Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise will be released on Tuesday, October 20th. This is the third book in a series written by my buddy, Jack Flacco. I will say right now that this book made me cry.
From reading the previous books, I’m fond of Ranger and his rag tag group of kids. I call them kids, but by the third book, even Jon, the youngest, has lost all traces of childhood. I guess you have to grow up pretty quickly during the Zombie Apocalypse. I wouldn’t know, having never been through one and intending to kill myself immediately upon hearing of at least five dead people who are eating living people.
In this book, Ranger and his crew hear about a place called Paradise where he and the kids might finally be able to live in a world without 24 x 7 adrenaline battles. Could it be too good to be true? Before they could figure that out, they’d have to get to Paradise, and travelling anywhere in the Zombie Apocalypse is a trying task. They meet new people and run into old allies along the way.
As with the others, the book starts out in media res, so it’s hard to get a grip on what’s going on at first. I assume that’s intended by the author to make the reader as disoriented as the characters must be. When Ranger’s group stumbles upon another group, they seem to grow close quickly. There’s a reason, but it was still a bit too quick for me. It felt like that part of the movie where you see something happen quickly with one line as an explanation and you yell at the screen, “Oh, the book goes into it much more than that!” Moving through the story, there are some flashbacks that explain a bit more of Ranger’s past than before, which was nice. Although, I’m not sure that it moved the story forward much at this point. When the group decides to set out for Paradise, the real action starts. Jack excels at, “Woo! That was close! Oh crap, it’s not over yet?!?!” moments. It’s quite a battle to get to Paradise, but when I saw how many pages were left before the group could get into Paradise, I knew that I wouldn’t be enjoying a peaceful ending any time soon.
If you like your endings tied up in a pretty package, then you will hate the end of this book. Initially, I was mad, wondering if there were going to be more books even though this was supposed to be a trilogy. Then, I let it settle in and came to accept the ending as fitting to the zombie genre in general. Good zombie books and movies do not have pretty endings. They always leave you with questions and they always leave you wanting more. For Ranger Martin and his group of adolescent comrades, it would be unfitting to have the group live happily ever after. Overall, I’m pleased with the series and this was a pretty exciting read.
I will admit that there are some misspellings and poor grammar sprinkled throughout the book. Jack wrote and published the book himself, so it’s hard to get everything as sparkling clean as expensive publishing houses require. Even then, a certain red-headed wizard in a very well-known book series was referred to by the name of the actor who played him in the movie, rather than the book character’s name. I have read some other self-published works that were just too painful to slog through at all, no matter how much I wanted to like the book or how free the book was. If’ you’re unsure, go ahead and read the first chapter on Jack’s site. Then, buy the book. It’s a relatively quick and easy read that will keep you engaged and excited. I’m grateful that Jack gave me the opportunity to read and review the book in advance. I’m still waiting to see how he tackles leprechauns and unicorns, though.