Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Staff Review: The Athena Project

Book Cover

The Athena Project by Brad Thor

The Athena Project is the latest novel by Brad Thor (author of Foreign Influence, Blowback, and The Lions of Lucerne.) Thor is known for creating a series of novels with the main character of Scot Harvath, an ex-Navy SEAL turned government secret agent. This book treads similar territory and loyal readers will be excited to know that there is a brief appearance by Harvath in The Athena Project. But Harvath is only a side character in this book. The main story centers around four women who compose an all-female Delta Forces team codenamed the Athena Project. The book follows Athena Project members Casey, Ericsson, Rhodes, and Cooper as they travel around the world carrying out risky counter-terrorism missions.

The detailed and factual exposition in The Athena Project will appeal to readers who like intricate descriptions of small unit tactics, conspiracy theories, and lesser-known 20th century military trivia. The author includes an epigraph at the beginning of the novel stating, “All of the science in this novel is based on reality.”

Aside from the exposition mentioned above, this book is almost entirely made up of action scenes. The reader gets to hear very little of what is going on inside the characters’ minds but there is plenty of clever back-and-forth dialogue. The scenery is painted with broad strokes leaving most of the details of the setting to be filled in by the reader’s imagination. At its best moments, reading this book is like watching an action movie in your head. The Athena Project maintains a fast pace by keeping character descriptions short and simple. The downside of this streamlined approach to characterization is that it puts the onus on the reader to keep track of who is who across multiple storylines and locations.

Finally, it should be noted that this book is kind of campy. Like a good action movie, it is at times over the top. For example, there is a scene where two characters must parachute onto the roof of a building then sneak inside to seduce and drug a powerful underworld businessman in order to extract information about how to stop a Nazi teleportation device. This whole book is like that, completely ridiculous and yet totally enjoyable at the same time. Overall a fun read, but if you can’t suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride, you might wind up groaning and rolling your eyes once or twice before The Athena Project is over.

Muriel - Circulation

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