“Holding your breath for long periods of time is a handy talent to have as a SEAL, and one he had worked on over the years. The skill had yet to save his life, but he had a feeling it would, eventually.”
SecondWorld, by Jeremy Robinson
Thomas Dunne Books, May 2012
341 pages (hardcover)
Lincoln Miller, an ex-Navy SEAL turned NCIS Special Agent is sent to Aquarius, the world’s only sub-oceanic research facility located off the Florida Keys, to investigate reports of ocean dumping. A week into his stay, strange red flakes descend from the surface. Scores of fish are dead and dying, poisoned by the debris that turns to powder in Miller’s fingers and tastes like blood.
Miller heads for the surface, ready to fight whoever is polluting on his watch. But he finds nothing. No ships. No polluters.
Instead, he finds a cloudless sky full of red particles dropping like snow and coating the ocean with a thick film that stretches to the horizon. When a dead blue whale collides with Aquarius, Miller begins a harrowing race to escape the affected area. Cut off from the rest of the world and surrounded by death, Miller makes his way to Miami where he discovers just one survivor, and the awful truth: the strange phenomenon that robbed the air of its life giving oxygen was an attack by an enemy reborn from the ashes of World War II. And they’re just getting started. Miami, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo have all been destroyed. Millions are dead.
And if Miller can’t track down and stop those responsible in seven days, the rest of the world is next.
The Chess Team series (later rebranded as the Jack Sigler series, because apparently “Chess Team” isn’t a compelling way to sell thrillers) was my first introduction to Jeremy Robinson. He describes himself as a cross between James Rollins (whom I love) and Matthew Reilly (whom I… don’t), and from what I know about all three authors, it’s an accurate description. Robinson’s books were fun and entertaining, but lacking that extra something that takes an action thriller from good to great, in my eyes.
I eventually grew disinterested in the Chess Team’s adventures, but when I saw the concept for this stand-alone, I was eager to give Robinson another try. (So eager that it sat on my TBR for a year and a half… but I think that says more about me than the book.) Despite the delay, SecondWorld definitely paid off.
I had to work for it, though; I almost put it aside early on. It starts off on the slow side, bouncing around between characters as we see this phenomenon taking place in different parts of the world. Robinson was using ideas I’d seen elsewhere, and there wasn’t anything in these early chapters to make this one stand out. I felt like I was just going through the motions in reading it.
Once we get to our main character, though, we stick with him, and the story picks up. It pulled me in and made me feel the urgency. That’s what I really want from a thriller… to be able to lose myself in it. This one delivered. I’m very glad I didn’t give up on it too soon.
Robinson’s written a follow-up novella to SecondWorld. I don’t usually seek out novellas or short stories unless I’m already invested in a series (and sometimes not even then), but I’m definitely planning on reading this one.
Does SecondWorld sound like something you’d pick up? Have you ever almost given up on a book, only to have it pay off in the end?