Friday, December 28, 2007

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

George Galen is a brilliant scientist, a pioneer in gene therapy. But Galen is dangerously insane – he has created a method to alter human DNA, not just to heal diseases, but to “improve” people – make them stronger, make them able to heal more quickly, and make them compliant to his will.

Frank Hartman is also a brilliant virologist, working for the government’s ultra-secret bio-hazard agency. He has discovered how to neutralize Galen’s DNA-changing virus, making him the one man who stands in the way of Galen’s plan to "improve" the entire human race.

I am a hard-core Orson Scott Card fan. I own most of his books, in hardback. I have read most of his books multiple times. There are some that I like more than others, but pretty much, when a new Card book comes out, I just go ahead and buy it in hardback because I know I'm going to love it. So, it is with great sadness that I have to say I did not love Invasive Procedures.

Although the book has Card's name as the most prominent feature on the front cover, and while it is based on one of Card's short stories, and even though he states in the Afterword that this book was a collaborative effort—if you've read much of Orson Scott Card, you will notice right away that this book does not have the feel, the depth, the intensity of his other books.

The concept isn't bad—in fact, it's pretty intriguing. But that's where the really good stuff ends. The characters are a little flat for Card. The dialog is off. The tension and the compelling nature of Card's writing just isn't there. It's like a good joke being told by an amateur—the timing is not right.

There are also a lot of mistakes. Not just typos, but double words and words in the wrong order. Almost every book has a few of these, but this one has way too many. It's not up to either Card's or TOR's usual standard. However, I could overlook these, if it weren't for some glaring content errors.

For example, in the beginning of the book (p. 48), Frank Hartman makes a big deal of how the counter-virus serum is RED because it STOPS the virus. Then at the end of the book (p. 327), when the serum is administered to someone, it's GREEN. What??

Another example (starting on p. 327) is when the good guys are lined up with their hands tied behind their backs. Hernandez has Byron put the helmet of his biosuit on so she can talk to him through the com link. He does. Then she tells him to take the helmet back off before someone notices it. He does. THEN she cuts the cords binding his hands. WHAT??

I am so disappointed. If you're a Card fan or you like near-future bio-based sci-fi, you'll probably want to read this book regardless of what I've said about it. And truthfully, it's not so completely bad that you'll want to poke your eyes out with a fork. But it's just not what we've come to expect from something that says Orson Scott Card on the front cover. Definitely check this one out from the library; don't buy it.

I reluctantly give this book 3 out of 5.


Julie Wright said...

this fills me with so much sadness. I am die hard card fan too. One thing my dad taught me when Clive Cussler and several other of his favorite authors started doing collaborative efforts is that the publisher uses the name of the big author, but the writing is almost entirely done by the little name on the cover. Too bad :(

Karlene said...

Yes. I forgot to make that point. Thanks for reminding me. I'm certain that Aaron Johnston is the principal, if not only, writer of this book. It ticks me off when it's advertised as something other than it is.

alisonwonderland said...

i've got this one on my winter challenge list so i'll probably read it anyway, but thanks for the "warning".