Review: “Lords of the Earth,” David Bowles

Pros: Interesting characters and solution
Cons: Didn’t pull me in right away
Rating: 4 out of 5

I got David Bowles’s Lords Of The Earth: A Kaiju Novel from a Storybundle, so while Kaiju aren’t usually my thing, I was psyched to give it a read and expand my horizons a bit. This installment hasn’t introduced me to my new favorite genre or anything, but I did enjoy it.

The Mexican volcano Popocatepetl has erupted, and it brought forth a huge stone that cracked open to reveal a 150-meter-tall reptilian monster that went on a rampage. TV scientist Elena Baz, who aids the government, wants to use a sort of sonic cannon to attack it. When the first use of the cannon goes awry and a second monster emerges, the US wants to drop a nuke–something that obviously the Mexican government isn’t on board with. An archaeologist and anthropologist named Alfonso Becerra, someone who has a negative history with Elena, thinks he’s found reference to these creatures in history and legend. He discovers a reference to another monster that is an enemy of these “Lords of the Earth,” but they’d have to lure the reptiles to the Gulf of Mexico, and no one wants to risk that. Part of the military ends up helping Elena and Alfonso to put their plan in motion when the government refuses to listen.

I’m not familiar with Mexican politics, so reading bits and pieces about them was actually something of a breath of fresh air. The interactions between American scientists and their government have gotten so totally stereotyped (with reason, admittedly) that I hate reading about them. This was new and interesting, especially as various criminal cartels decide the government is failing and thus get involved–usually making things even worse instead of better.

It would have been easy for the relationship between Elena and Alfonso to fall into a stereotype of the bitchy woman and the hard-working guy who eventually brings her around. Instead, they’re both just strong, intelligent people who happened to hit it off badly the first time around. This is a nice dynamic. The characters in general have plenty of depth to them and don’t fall prey to stereotyping. Alfonso’s contribution of various bits of legendry makes things intriguing. There’s a small amount of adult material, and things do get a bit gory.

The litany of destruction definitely would have meant more to me if I were familiar with Mexican landmarks, but it was still impressive. It did make the beginning seem a little one-note, however, so the story took some time to draw me in. It also took some time before the monsters became anything more than just mountains on legs, effectively, which also prevented me from getting hooked right away. They turn out to have some fascinating biological aspects to them that make them more interesting later on.

While this book didn’t wow me, it got better as it went on. If you’re a bigger fan of the Kaiju genre, or would get more out of the descriptions of damage throughout Mexico than I did, it might suit you better.

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