Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: The Scarab

The Scarab
The Scarab by Scott Rhine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Science Fiction thriller Reading Level: Adult (PG-rated per author)

Disclosure: I purchased this book for myself so am under no obligation, but am happy to provide an honest review.

Synopsis: The Scarab is a PG, first-person, near-future, Science Fiction thriller that fans of Speed Racer will enjoy.

There are very few problems that can't be solved with a little help from your friends and the proper application of high explosives. Hemophiliac and ace mechanic Ethan Hayes had risen to the top of the computer gaming circuit as the Scarab. When he invented a device that made him rich over night, he and ex-girlfriend, Mary Ann, were able to enter SimCon, the simulated European road race.

When Ground Effect Vehicles became common, prototypes were too dangerous and expensive to build outright. Instead, each year, major designers competed in the Super Bowl of virtual races – SimCon. The vehicles needed speed, skill, and weapons to get ahead. The winners in each class got millions in production contracts and advertizing.

Ethan made a lot of enemies in his first professional race, including a cyber-criminal named Kali. The challenges of a week-long trek across Europe are nothing compared to the dirty tricks, murder, and kidnapping that took place off the track. Being a severe hemophiliac meant Ethan had to keep his temper under control, and think. When someone kidnapped Mary Ann, it was up to the Scarab to save her.

My Thoughts: This book dates from prior to my acquaintance with Scott Rhine; I have read all of his other stuff and really enjoyed it, so had been looking forward to this chance to finishing reading all of the Scott Rhine library.

This was a different book – there was quite a lot of mechanical details as Ethan worked on his Ground Effect Vehicle (GEV) for the race. I had expected that sort of thing might glaze my eyes, but Rhine explains things in a way that provides the details that a non-mechanically inclined person like me needs without overloading or bogging down the action. And there was action: lots and lots of action. The SimCon quickly became a game of “pick-on-the-Scarab,” and Ethan is definitely kept on the ropes. The reader is not allowed to become bored or complacent, as twist after turn comes flying at you. I’m not quite sure if I completely agree with the science fiction genre; I see more speculative fiction aspects to this, as well as almost a coming-of-age subtext. I quite liked it. If you like fast pacing and intricate details, you should love The Scarab.

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