February 16, 2014

Review: The Trap

The Trap
The Trap by Andrew Fukuda

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've been a great fan of Andrew Fukuda's work; in fact I gave both the previous books in this series, The Hunt and The Prey, five-star ratings. Those ratings were well deserved. When I saw this book in the library, I immediately snatched it up, thinking that with the story Andrew Fukuda had to tell, it would surely be as good as its predecessors.

Unfortunately, it isn't.

Certainly, Fukuda's hallmarks as a writer are all there. The excellent pacing, the breathless, slam-bang action scenes that wind you up like an eight-day clock, and some surprisingly good character work. This is concentrated on the two leads, Gene and Sissy, along with Gene's absent (and possibly dead--that was left rather up in the air) father, who is still a formidable presence throughout. The villain, the dusker (this world's version of a badass, ruthless vampire--no noble sparklers or angsty bloodsucking reluctant heroes here) known as the Ruler, is something of an over-the-top, cartoonish disappointment. In fact, the depiction of the Ruler is when I realized this book was starting to come apart at the seams.

In the first two books, Fukuda was the master of worldshaking plot twists, in each case coming in the very last sentence of the book. In this book, there is another plot twist, and it falls absolutely flat. I REALLY dislike the final explanation for the duskers and humans; the story provided in The Prey is an excellent one indeed, and in fact I made it a prominent part of my review for that book. This book takes that nicely wrapped bowtie and shreds it, and for no reason as far as I can see. To put it bluntly, it's stupid, and the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. I suppose Fukuda thought he had to put in ANOTHER SHOCKING PLOT TWIST, but a SHOCKING PLOT TWIST that makes absolutely no sense, and furthermore contradicts what you said in the second book, is not to my mind worth it.

Also, Fukuda ends the book by falling prey to a cliche I would have thought he'd have the good sense to avoid. Gene and Sissy, who are the last two humans on Earth as far as I can tell, take their hang gliders and flee. There's a two-page internal dialogue from Gene, planning all the things he and Sissy's children will do, expanding the human population and building a civilization (and what about the inbreeding, pray tell?), and centuries from now, coming back to slaughter all the duskers. He finishes thusly:

"The name of our new home will be the reversal of the Nede.
We shall call it Eden."

Eden? Eden? Come on, people. That made me cringe, and ends the book on an absolutely sour note. If the rest of the book had held to the high standards of the first two, it wouldn't have mattered, but since this book had already pretty much been ruined for me, this unfortunately fit right in.

It's sad. The first two books were so good. If Fukuda had just resisted the urge to be all plot-twisty and clever, this book could have earned five stars right along with them.

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