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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

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Complicated Scientific outing that evolves into Alien

Subhuman (A Unit 51 Novel) - Michael McBride

Where oh where do I start writing a review of a book that has been enjoyed by so many of my peers and yet I would honestly say it was the worst book I have read this year. How can some love a book so much and yet others find it impossible to see within its content any merit whatsoever? The story (i think!) involves a discovery made in Antarctica, a pyramid enclosed with bones and an odd shaped "cone" skull that spoke of an ancient people who inhabited our planet many many moons ago. From all corners of our present world a number of great minds are called to Antarctica to use their expertise and knowledge of this cone headed  species having unearthed a few of the said skulls at their own particular digs/excavations....


This book falls somewhere between Michael Crichton, Scott Sigler with a touch of The Thing (Kurt Russell 1982 version) and without a doubt shades of Alien...remember that scene when Sigourney Weaver gets up close and personal with the alien in Alien 3...."Its cranium was elongated and the flesh of its scalp torn. Its eyes bulged from their sockets to such a degree that its lids had to remain mostly closed to contain them. The veins had rupture, causing a skein of blood to form on the surface, so thick it was nearly black"..... This quote is from Subhuman but everything about it speaks Alien to me, we have the crew of the good ship "Nostromo" being selected individually and savaged  by an organism and in one horrific scene attaches itself inside the body of John Hurt. Now in our story a species or micro-organism referred to as "archaea" is "able to infest and subsume the bodies of these men."....I remember so vividly slime and blood dripping from the alien as one by one Ripley's (Weaver) crew are destroyed....now this quote from Subhuman, reads like something from Alien...."Something warm and wet struck his cheek. He slowly raised his eyes toward the ceiling, and the open vent directly overhead. Another drop streaked from the edge of the duct and struck the ground in front of him.".....


The first half of the book is so riddled with scientific jargon to the point of boredom and it is only when finally I am able to translate this technical vernacular that the theme begins to make  sense. This new alien archaea/organism is able to communicate by using sound waves that are projected through water. This creates a ripple/shape effect similar to the "crop circle" mystery where strange patterns appeared overnight in fields of cereal crops and many believed were the work of aliens who were trying to make contact. Therefore it follows in Subhuman that the sound/wave ripples is an attempt to communicate.


Now at this point if you are thoroughly confused by my review then Subhuman is not the book for you but equally if you enjoy a story technically filled with senseless jargon (think Tom Clancy merged with Stephen Hawking) then you are in for a treat. My only regret was that the predator in Subhuman was not quite as successful in his kill rate as the alien that Officer Ripley encountered on the good ship Nostromo. Many thanks to the good people of netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. A free reading copy will never stop me writing a truthful review and to me as a reader/reviewer if the book is not to my taste I will certainly voice my opinion, otherwise what is the point?