Authors J.F. Gonzalez and Brian Keene bring their killer crab creature feature trilogy to a close with Clickers III: Dagon Rising.
Rather than trying to turn horror author Rick Sychek into a John McClane sort (always in the wrong place at the right time), stuck in an eternal battle against the Clickers, the co-authors instead bring some of the prior novel's secondary characters a step forward into the limelight. Although Sychek is reduced to a brief cameo and some mention's here and there, his presence is still felt and I appreciated that his past actions had a lasting effect on those returning players who had fought alongside him previously. Stepping up in a big way this time around are ex-hitman Tony Genova and ex-Secret Service agent, Clark Arroyo, on the run after his actions in Clickers II, and marine biologist Jennifer Wasco. I enjoyed each of these three characters in the previous novel, so it was a pleasure seeing more of them.
Although Clickers III is meant to be a finale, it also feels at times like a soft reboot. The main characters of the previous novels are sidelined and reduced to minor namechecks here and there, and the US coastal settings of the prior two books are also absent. Clickers II went into some big places, reading like a disaster epic, and it's a tough book to top. Rather than try to outdo themselves, the authors deliberately set about crafting a smaller, low-key adventure, albeit one that is still rife with action. But in changing things up so much, it feels a touch disconnected from the previous installments. This time around, Gonzalez and Keene channel their inner-Predator and set the action in a tropical jungle on a Pacific Island where the Dark Ones are making one last push to destroy all of humanity.
For the most part, I enjoyed Clickers III, just not quite as much as the previous installment. Clickers II had it all - monsters, mayhem, and a massive scope. Although the threat in Clickers III is enormous, everything about the book feels smaller, and a bit of a step backward. At times it feels more akin to the first book, but it lacks any sense of the unknown, particularly if you know a bit about Lovecraft's mythology, and there's not much in the way of surprises or mystery.
It's not quite the giant conclusion I was hoping for, but it's a decent bit of entertainment. Reading these three books back to back might have been a bit too much, though. I think I was suffering from series fatigue, which probably contributed to some of my disappointment. Still, I liked it well enough overall. This was a fun series, and I'm looking forward to seeing what stories a number of other authors can tell while playing in this world's sandbox for the upcoming Clickers Forever tribute anthology (Sadly, J.F. Gonzalez died in 2014).
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