Monday, December 1, 2008

This Rage of Echoes

The most recent release of a Simon Clark title from Leisure’s horror imprint is This Rage of Echoes. I’ve previously read Blood Crazy, Darker, and Nailed by the Heart by Clark, and enjoyed them.

The new book has one of the more interesting premises of anything I’ve read recently. The central character, Mason Kantner, is on the run from Echomen, who, if they get close enough to someone, begin to become them. Once they have duplicated them, the new “Echo” turns violent, murders the original, and frequently goes on a rampage. Mason has fallen in with a group dedicated to killing the Echomen, whose existence is unknown to the general population. It is a gripping read, particularly once you start wondering whether the group is really killing Echomen or just ordinary people. Mason himself has his doubts. Some problems I had with the novel, with spoilers contained within, follow:


Mason exhibits some of the traits of a bad horror movie character. Twice, he leaves the group despite knowing better, with disastrous results. This is the equivalent of when movie teens are trapped in an old house with a serial killer, and one decides to wander off to be alone.
It is established later that only certain people can be duplicated, and Mason himself has the strongest ability to convert someone into an Echo. So why is it so easy to make copies of his sister and mother as well?
After being taken to the compound, the group leader tells Mason how vitally important he is, then leaves him alone, with no questioning and only a mentally-impaired man as protection.
The resolution at the end seems a little too contrived, a little too deus ex machina for me.


Despite those complaints, I did enjoy the book immensely, starting and finishing it the same day. I would recommend it, as well as Clark’s other books.

One other observation: There is a jacket blurb from another author saying that Clark may be the next Stephen King. This is the third or fourth book in a row I’ve read with a similar statement somewhere on the cover. I understand why it is done, but come on guys: Everyone can’t be Stephen King.

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