Friday, 14 January 2011

Review: Monster republic - The Judas Code by Ben Horton

The explosion at the Prime Minister's visit to Long Harbour means the cover of the Monster Republic is blown, and they are forced deep into hiding. Lazarus Fry turns his tactics to infiltration, and is confident of their swift crushing. Plus his new pets, the Blood Hawks, are hungry to get their talons into some fresh kill...   But Fry hasn't counted on this band of rebel kids' awesome will for survival. When your back is against the wall, the only option is to come out fighting...

It really doesn't seem like twelve months since I read and reviewed Monster Republic, the first book in Ben Horton's series about a gang of children who have been experimented on by an evil scientist and lived to tell the tale. That first book was very much the story of Cameron, a boy caught up in a massive explosion who awakes to find that he has been worked on by the evil Lazarus Fry. Thanks to the explosion he is now severely disfigured, a tragedy that isn't even slightly improved in his mind by the fact that he has also been  given various bionic enhancements. That book detailed his escape from Fry's compound, and his discovery that he is not alone as he is taken under the wing of other experimentees, who have christened themselves the Monster Republic.

Cameron's character is still a key element of The Judas Code, which follows straight on from the events at the end of its predecessor. However, this story has a broadened focus in that the plot is now just as much about the group and their attempts to stay alive and hidden from the armed forces that are amassing in Broad Harbour and its surrounding area. Of course, there are still elements within the Republic who resent Cameron's presence, and do not yet trust him, fearing that his headstrong nature and desire for revenge may lead to disaster for them all. And maybe they they are right........

Just two books into the series and a reader will already know what to expect from Ben Horton. These are not books that are going to win prizes for the complexity of the plotting, or thorough and detailed character development. However, if there was an award going for pace and non-stop action then he would surely have a chance of being on the shortlist. That's not to say that the characters aren't good - with their various enhancements these monster children make for great reading fun, and I know many boys who really enjoyed the first book in the series because of Ben Horton's imaginative creations. The Judas Code helps us to get to know these damaged kids much better, and he really has fun  describing some of them (I think my favourite is the aptly named Crawler).

This is a great book for both struggling and reluctant readers, as the relatively large print and shortish chapters will appeal and the fast pace will help draw them into the story very quickly. At a push this book could be read as a standalone as the author seems to have gone out of his way to fill us in on the events that happened in the first book. This will certainly appeal to many reluctant reader boys who, if they see a book they like, want to read it there and then instead of having to faff around waiting for the first in the series to drop into their hands. However, the more discerning boy reader should really read book one first to get the most out of this sci-fi action series. The Judas Code was published on 6th January and my thanks go to the generous people at RHCB for sending me a copy to review. Watch this space for a chance to win a copy of the book in a few days time.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a really great book for the fast pace and action-packed page-turning.