My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My original THE X-FILES: ORIGINS - AGENT OF CHAOS audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.
I have to admit, I was rather skeptical at the notion of a young adult The X-Files title when the Origins book, Agent of Chaos, was first announced. And although this was a fun audiobook, with several nods toward key components of The X-Files lore, I’m not convinced it’s an indispensable chapter to the series’ ever-growing mythology despite the entertainment value.
Kami Garcia presents a young Fox Mulder, on the cusp of high school graduation and hunting for colleges, investigating the disappearance of several young children during spring break. Spring break gives Garcia a welcome opportunity to avoid the high school cliches and senior-year melodrama, while still dabbling in young love and PI-style murder investigations. The main impetus for Mulder’s involvement, though, stems from the abduction of his own sister five years prior, and the similarities between her disappearance and those of the current cases. Given Mulder’s personal history and obsession over Samantha’s mysterious kidnapping, his motivations here are natural and believable within the constraints of the story.
It is still slightly jarring and a bit odd, though, to have a teenage Mulder as the focus, after so many years of an adult portrayal on television and other various media tie-ins. To suddenly have the franchise veer into Veronica Mars and The Hardy Boys territory requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief, even on top of the series staples of alien encounters, monsters of the week, and government conspiracies.
Another sticking point came in the portrayal of The Major, a father of one of Mulder’s friends. An ex-Air Force pilot, The Major is shell-shocked and reeling from the loss of his wife some years prior, and more than a little bit crazed with his obsession over conspiracies involving government cover-ups over alien life, all of which, he believes, is tied into secret revelations hidden in the novel, Stormbringer, written by fantasy author Michael Moorcock. The Major, as both a character and a plot device to draw Mulder into the role of Believer, is a bit too on the nose, particularly as, during their first meeting, The Major advises Mulder with well-trod nuggets like “The truth is out there.”
Will Damron’s narration is solid and serves the story well, although I thought his reading of The Major’s dialogue was a bit too gruff, bordering on over the top. His handling of Mulder was sufficient, even if this youthful interpretation of soon-to-be infamous FBI’s Most Unwanted loses the deadpan delivery David Duchovny brought to the role (but perhaps that’s an aspect the character grew into over the following years). Agent of Chaos is well produced, with the audio quality coming through cleanly and the narration itself professionally handled.
While I’m not completely sold that this YA experiment is completely integral to The X-Files canon, I am at least curious to see what the next book, a Scully-centric title called Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry, brings to the table. I’m also greatly relieved that the publisher didn’t attempt to retcon all of The X-Files history by creating a contrived young adult Mulder and Scully partnership. Giving each character their own separate books to chart their own paths toward their future FBI’s basement office is a smart move, even if, at this juncture, Origins feels largely unnecessary to the series itself.
[Note: This audiobook was provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com.]
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