Review: Clickers II: The Next Wave by J.F. Gonzalez and Brian Keene

Clickers II: The Next Wave
By J. F. Gonzalez, Brian Keene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I dove into Clickers II: The Next Wave immediately after finishing the first Clickers novel. I had kind of expected the sequel to be more of the same, but was immediately impressed with how much larger the scope of this sequel is. Clickers II is bigger and better than its predecessor, with the sea-borne threat even more dangerous this time around. Whereas Clickers was a pulpy, small-town creature feature B-movie set to print, Clickers II ups the ante and becomes a full-blown disaster flick.

Hurricane Gary is plowing along the Eastern seaboard, dredging up a fresh swarm of giant killer crabs from the ocean. Ten years after the carnage at Philipsport, the USA is taken completely by surprise when the monsters start running rampant. Turns out a massive government cover-up has kept the Clickers a secret, and Rick and Melissa, two of the prior novel's survivors are on the run and hunted by government assassins. Who'd ever have thought these high-level decisions would come back to bite the country in its big ol' backside?

Following the untimely death of co-writer Mark Williams, J.F. Gonzalez is joined with Brian Keene this time around, and the two have done a wonderful job of proving just how elastic this crazy premise can be. While the first Clickers was focused on small-town scares, this sucker brings in the might of the American military, a crazed religious nut going bonkers in the White House, and plenty of carnage all up and down the seaboard, from Pennsylvania to Florida and with plenty of stops in between.

I know plenty of readers will be bothered by the depiction of the US President as a Christian zealot (cuz, gee, we've never had one of those before...), but I appreciated the honest assessment of our modern-day GOP. President Tyler is the type of science-denying, news media-hating, religious nut who spends most of his time on his knees, offering up thoughts and prayers instead of decisive action when America truly needs it. Although this novel was written in 2006, it's pretty clear the authors had a really good understanding of just how much farther one of the country's two major political parties had to fall, and it's pretty clear things have only gotten worse in the intervening decade. Kudos to the authors for being so prescient, and politically speaking, this book is even more scarily relevant now. All that's missing are the president's Russian handlers!

Thankfully, the blood 'n' guts of this sucker is darn enjoyable, too, and there's bucketfuls of both. When the Clickers make their first invasion, storming the beaches of New Jersey, it's wonderfully epic and very well paced. There's not a lot of slowing down, catch your breath moments in this book, and Gonzalez and Keene sustain a breakneck pace all the way through.

Clickers II: The Next Wave has all the fun of its predecessor, but greatly improves on the former with better built characters, the sense of a sweeping epic, and much more depth to go alongside the fist-pumping action. If you read and enjoyed the first book, you definitely need to check out part two! As for me? Well, I'll be diving into the depths of Clickers III later this evening.

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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