book reviews

Book Review: Blowout


by Byron L. Dorgan and David Hagberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even if Amazon Vine hadn’t sent Byron Dorgan and David Hagberg’s Blowout (Forge 2011) to me to review, I would have read it because of Hagberg’s name. His stories are always good reads with fast-paced plots, well-defined characters and enough surprises to keep me turning pages. With titles like Kill Zone, Assassin, and Twister, readers know their about to loose a couple of days of their lives to reading.

But I almost quit on him this time. To get to the good stuff, I had to endure lectures on global warming I’ve already read in too many newspapers and detailed science coming from the mouths of characters I wasn’t sure I trusted. Global warming is politically-charged enough that just discussing it will make you love or hate the character. And Hagberg-Dorgan made that Shakespearean mistake (remember: Me thinks he doth protest too much) of trying to convince me for page after page (after page) that the country’s energy policies were as screwed up as an earthworm in the wrong hole. If I agreed with him, he’s preaching to the choir. If I disagreed, he’s making me angry.

Finally–after eighty pages–Hagberg-Dorgan settled into the story line and I met the main character.

Eighty pages into the book? That’s pretty late for a thriller. Hagberg has an entire column of publications to his name. He knows better.

But I digress. Finally, after eighty pages, the wild ride I’d been waiting for started. The plot revolves around America’s insatiable appetite for energy. When American scientists get close to solving the problem with clean energy that doesn’t rely on foreign oil, unexpected forces try to stop them. This is where small town lawman Nate Osborn (who is also a medically-retired Medal of Honor winner) and new journalist Ashley Borden become the unlikely pair who must stop the enemy. The characters are well-constructed and endearing, clearly created by the man who gave us super-hero Kirk McGarvey. The politics is disgusting (a good choice since something like 80% of Americans distrust politicians) and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The problem is credibility. To believe the series of events postulated in this story could happen, I have to buy into the belief that a whole lot of people in power are more than self-serving, but downright evil, that we’ve reached a tipping point where the good people in power can no longer stand against the bad.

And that’s why I gave this great writer only three stars. The politics is something I try to escape in thrillers so that lost one star. Then the bigger-than-life Medal of Honor hero was not enough to offset the incredulity of so many evil-minded people running our nation. That lost the second star. If I was grading solely on the power of the writing, Blowout would get a five.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s seeking representation for a techno-thriller that she just finished. Any ideas? Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Blowout

  1. I’m torn on this one – on the one hand, I love this kind of storyline, but on the other hand, if it’s so heavily charged on the politics and tirades, he’d lose me well before 80 pages!


    • I had the same reaction, Nicky. I want to avoid politics when I’m reading, escape to that world where heroes are bigger than life, life-shattering problems get solved and the Ordinary Man prevails with common sense.

      I don’t think I described even a shred of politics.


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