There are some things in my childhood that I always loved, and one of those things was the classic adventure summer blockbuster film. These specific films were trendy in the 1990s and frequently had very distinct character arcs, portrayal in the culture, and ideas of good versus evil.
In today’s review, I am reviewing the novel by John L. DeBoer, “When the Reaper Comes.” John was kind enough to ask me to give an honest review, and I picked this up on Kindle Unlimited.
Starting with my first impressions, As a reader, my imagination traveled to a simple story, rooted in the political climate around 2012 – 2016. There are distinct good guys, and definite bad guys and the initial premise and hook were easy to get into and understand. Thus, for my first impression, I found this novel to be comforting in its use of familiar tropes and exciting in how it used them.
I don’t want to spoil this novel, so I am not going to. I can say that I found the most consistent element to the story was how clearly defined the character arcs are. There were no characters who blurred or met a gray line in the morality or ethics of their side. This unique take is something that I haven’t read in more recently published novels. I found myself as a reader reassured by the fact that my expectations were never subverted, and there was no major twist nor any story trick.
So let me go into my critiques now, and under “Cliche’ Much,” unfortunately, there are a couple of hits. Villains are villains, I told you this already, but the ones in this novel are such a stereotypical villain character type, that they are bumbling and one dimensional. The leader has a strong personality, is stubborn despite himself, and has an excellent character arch. The ‘muscle’ characters become typical for secondary villain characters, mostly following because they must for the plot to work. And that’s not bad exactly, but it is a critique, and I did notice it. The same tropes exist for “The good guys are good guys” because, honestly, they were the same. In my opinion, should someone change the politics and setting, the characters could fit comfortably in any novel. One could replace either side with any number of scenarios, aside from the specifics to the political piece. While there were some unique pieces to each character, I found was those pieces didn’t matter. The characters were used in such bold strokes through the narrative the uniqueness was lost.
Let me go into what I enjoyed about “When the Reaper Comes,” we are going to start with the “Story Structure, Foundation, and presentation” category. I think this is the first time that I have ever said all three of these items were done well and in harmony. The novel was easy to read on Kindle with the default settings. The Kindle also was graced with well-spaced margins. I am happy to report that there were no spelling or grammatical errors. In “Story Structure” the layout of the novel was done plot by plot, it had marked character arcs, and you could set your watch on “this event will happen at 25%, and this one at 50%” like clockwork. I wasn’t ever given any boring, dry parts to pacing, the tension was just right for the scene, and I found it to be exciting. Lastly, under “Foundation,” I found all of the science, tech, information on weapons, and any technical parts of the story, including political reasons, were outlined well. There wasn’t anything confusing in presentation, and I found this book to be simplistic in its complicated nature.
I’ve yet to meet a book that fits all three categories so well, so I think that John did a fantastic job in writing “When the Reaper Comes.” If he has an editor or story editing team, they deserve a bottle of fine wine for all of their efforts, because they did so well at making sure all reader needs were met.
Next, under the category “Whole Story,” I am pleased to say this story has a complete story. There were no subversions of expectations, no unnecessary cliffhangers, no lost plot-threads, and it was fully fleshed out. As a reader, I appreciated the backstories to every character, and I felt the weight of the choices both sides of the antagonist as well as the protagonist faced. Again, John did an exceptional job with writing this story and making sure that all things came to a satisfactory conclusion.
In my last thoughts, while I don’t think I’m the intended audience of this novel, I can assure you that if you are, you should be fully satisfied with this book. If you like James Bond Spy novels or you love Jason Borne, or perhaps you are a big fan of books that mirror the “Die Hard” movies, this book is for you. “When the Reaper Comes” is an action-packed fuel-driven fun fest, and I hope you enjoy every moment of it.
And thus, “When The Reaper Comes” gets a score of 90/100, which is a five-star review on Goodreads and Amazon. Again, if you are interested in a popcorn-munching good time where bad guys are villains, and good guys are heroes, pick this book up! You will not be disappointed!