Sunday, February 28, 2010

Distant Cousin: Regeneration

Distant Cousin: Regeneration
by Al Past

(CreateSpace / 1-448-69856-1 / 978-1-448-69856-1 / September 2009 / 306 pages / $12.95 / Kindle $5 / B&N $9.32 / B&N e-book $3.57)

Dr. Al Past spreads his literary wings outward to encompass the details of more characters in Distant Cousin (4): Regeneration. Like many later sequels in a series, this chapter of the saga of Barbie from Outer Space broadens its context. Ana Darcy and Matt Mendez are still the stars, but the page count of DC4 covers a lot of terrain inhabited by their teenage kids, one of the kids’ friends, and an ex-Navy Seal who is sort of Ana’s personal bodyguard. Many new family members and others are included, too, in this new volume, but probably the most interesting is daughter Clio’s pet caracal, essentially an African bobcat. Regeneration is paced much like DC1 and DC3, somewhat slowly and emotionally involving, as opposed to action-packed like the shortest of the series, Distant Cousin: Repatriation. Unfortunately, I think this fourth book could have used just a little more of the taut excitement of DC2.

Plot details should always be held to a minimal level in reviews. Anyone who plans to read Regeneration is most likely already familiar with the characters and storyline. Ana and Matt are a number of years older, the babies are now teenagers, and they have all settled down into a routine in recent years. The kids are stronger participants now, leading to questions concerning whatever special abilities they may have inherited from their Thoman mom. Characters introduced in the previous books develop new relationships and new villains carry the plot into new dark alleys, adventures, and exotic locations.

Regeneration wobbles back and forth a little in its lack of a headlong rush to its final conclusion. The good news is that the adventures of Anna Darcy and Matt Mendez are still quite satisfying as the author takes his professionalism in editing and proofreading to a new level. The show-don’t-tell dialogue is particularly adept throughout, subtly placing the reader squarely among the characters, however, I felt that the Spanish dialect followed by English translations in parentheses just bogged down the storyline, as did the detailed descriptions of food at every meal. Yes, I am being quite critical, but only because the other Distant Cousin books are so emotionally gripping. Regeneration to me was like a roller coaster that was a fun ride, but that first hill that defines the speed of the coaster just wasn’t quite high enough. The villains could have been a little more sneakily tenacious and Ana could have stretched my heartstrings a little tauter. DC4 gets an A in show-don’t-tell, but its plot momentum leaves a bit to be desired. There is no doubt that I thoroughly enjoyed this fourth Ana Darcy adventure from beginning to end. It just lacks the wow-factor so prevalent in the first three books of Al Past’s Distant Cousin Series. What more can you really ask of a third sequel?

See also: Al Past's Website
The BNN Review of Regeneration
Reviews of DC1, DC2, & DC3
Al Past's Smashwords Page

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