Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Soft Target - Book Review

Okay, so Soft Target is the last of the Stephen Hunter I haven't read and the real last of the series. So now I'm really disappointed to be finished - maybe I could start all over again? Nah. No point in treading over places I've already been. Gotta keep moving, reading-wise.

Soft Target is not so much a novel as a novel-length parable told in a feverish style. Hunter is at the top of his game here but it's a lightning quick read - about a hundred pages short of a typical thriller - because Hunter wants to get in, tell his story, make his point, and get the heck out. Ray Cruz carries on the Bob Lee Swagger story. Sure, it's a tired trope, Cruz being an unknown son of Swagger's, and so carries on the family sniper tradition but what're you gonna do? Get past that and Cruz is a great new series character to follow. Stoic, capable, flawed.  Everything you'd like to be.

But back to why Soft Target is more a parable than a story. Hunter thinly disguises his characters and they're obvious stand-ins for current politicians. (Heck, don't take my word for it. Take Hunter's.) His bad guys are the current crop of bad guys - radical Islamists - but there are also other bad guys, namely nihilist gamer youth, and so Hunter has a blast blasting away at what he sees are the biggest threats to civilized society. Don't agree? Write your own book then.

There's plenty of shooting and guns and 'splosions and helicopters to keep you amused and when the smoke clears the good guys are left standing and the bad guys have met their just reward. Can't ask for much more than that, can you?

Soft Target doesn't approach the epic grandeur of Hunter's finest but it'll do until the next one comes along.