Area 7

35. Area 7 by Matthew Reilly. 387 p. Published February 2002.

Dealing with the aftermath of the events in Ice Station is tough on the government and military. In the end, the politicians can only put Scarecrow and the surviving members of his team in one place – aboard Marine 1, the President’s helicopter. Now heading the Presidential Marine guard, Scofield finds himself escorting the newly elected President on a tour of classified Air Force bases in the western portion of the U.S.

The President, with his entourage of Secret Service agents, political aides, and Marine escort, arrives at Area 7. This research facility, housed in NORAD’s original installation and guarded by an elite class of commandos, is now the center for the Air Force’s bio-chemical weapons program. In particular, the scientists have focussed on developing a vaccine to a race-based biotoxin originating from China.

However, as the President is touring the facility, the true motives for scheduling his visit become clear – the Air Force is staging a coup d’état. Trapped inside the base, Scofield’s team must work to reach the president and keep him alive. But doing so is more difficult that believed – for the madman in charge has created the biggest “Ticking Time Bomb” scenario concievable. Confronted with assault on all sides and the potential ramifications of their failure, Scofield and his men must do the impossible – secure the president and the vaccine while outmanned and outgunned.

With action and intrigue raging across every page, Area 7 is a perfect sequel to Ice Station. Scarecrow, along with his memorable batch of grunts, takes the reader on a journey spanning subterranean caverns, mid-air gunship battles, and low-orbit space combat. And however wild and crazy that sounds, Reilly’s consistent voice and plot dynamic make it all believable. Okay, maybe the space-based combat was a little far-fetched.

However, while Area 7 was enjoyable, it had some serious faults. There is almost no character development and the few attempts Reilly makes are rather transparent – the classic romance, the conflicted son of a fallen comrade, the return of a character obviously unfit for military duty. Reilly could do better. On top of that, Scofield has kept his death-defying luck and puts it to ready use shooting down missiles and leaping off cliffs. These are things that are excusable for an initial novel – but not a sequel.

In the end, Area 7 pulls the reader along with a solid pulse-pounding plot, but offers little else in the way of substance. While this is par for the course of military-thrillers, I was hoping for a bit more. Even so, I enjoyed reading Area 7 and can’t wait to move on to the next book in the Shane “Scarecrow” Scofield series.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Other Reviews of Area 7: The Redneck Romance Writer

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