Review: “Edit,” Rick Chesler

Pros: Genuinely tense
Cons: Lots of holes and inconsistencies
Rating: 2 out of 5

SPOILER WARNING: This review does contain spoilers, because there’s a lot to talk about.

Rick Chesler’s EDIT takes place in modern-day Florida. Detective Rene Bravia and his partner do a wellness check and find a scientist, Dr. Archie Landis, dead in his home; his throat was apparently slit, and his “I’m Sorry” note makes it look like a suicide. Bravia has never seen anything like the weapon that was used, though–it looks like a giant claw. When he takes it to Dr. Rebecca Trout, a zoologist, for identification, she realizes it looks just like a T-Rex claw, only it isn’t fossilized! Soon after, Dr. Trout is called to the scene of two deaths in a national park; it appears that two people were killed by some sort of dinosaur/bird creature. Park Ranger Sara Cliff found the bodies on her first day patrolling. Soon Rebecca and Sara are on the run, trying to protect a family from what appear to be marauding dinosaurs!

I almost immediately soured on this book when very, very early on we run into the traditional, wouldn’t-happen-in-real-life, “Tell me again…?” If the response had been overly complicated that sort of thing might make sense, but there’s no way the character had forgotten the answer.

There are a lot of little inconsistencies in this book. Sara’s been on the job for a month, but this is her first day on the job (I think it’s really meant to be that this is her first day on patrol, but the idea that it’s her first day on the job gets repeated multiple times). The company that turns out to be working on genetic engineering projects starts out with one name (probably a placeholder from a former draft) and then changes into something else. Some characters hear “the first words” they’ve ever heard out of a character’s mouth, except that he said something on the previous page. There are kids in the RV that’s being attacked, but when the adult characters get up onto the roof, the kids seem to disappear, then reappear when the adults come back down. Sara seems to cross a body of water both first and last out of her group. Rebecca was hiding in the RV at one point, but then she’s magically back with the main group of people. Rebecca left her Prius near the scene of the first attack, but when the rangers drive past looking for Sara, there are no vehicles there. Nor do the rangers seem to notice Sara’s smashed-up vehicle, which should still be on the road. Sara does a little shooting, then later she tells someone she hasn’t yet used her gun and has a full clip of ammo in it. Despite all the running the characters do–and it’s a LOT of running–no one ever seems to run out of breath or energy or be seriously impacted by the exertion in any way. If there were only a couple of these I’d question my remembering of it or figure eh, everyone makes mistakes, but this is a lot of inconsistencies.

There are a number of things about the presence of all of these dinosaurs and related events that don’t make much sense. Such as, the initial death of Dr. Landis that seems to set all of this off. Did he kill himself? If so, cutting your own throat with a claw seems unlikely. Did a beast that he took home with him (and why did BioGen allow that?) kill him? Well, nothing else in the home seemed torn up, so I’m going to go with a no. Did the company have him killed? Doesn’t really seem like their style, and even if it was, it would be a boneheaded move to leave the claw behind as evidence. Note that this is never resolved.

How is BioGen making money off of setting dinosaurs loose? I guarantee you, the CEO we meet should have been thinking of how to monetize the whole thing rather than just wreaking havoc on the Everglades. Also, why engineer entire flocks of bird/reptiles? Wouldn’t they just engineer a few? There are multiple flocks of these things out there.

At the end, the rangers claim that the threat has been “contained.” Now obviously there’s sequel bait and it hasn’t been contained, but it also makes no sense that they think it’s contained. I mean, they spotted whole colonies of giant worms. There are the aforementioned flocks of bird/reptiles, which aren’t exactly going to be contained by any fences. It doesn’t make any sense that anyone would accept this.

I also wish the author had used the thesaurus a little bit less, or paid a little more attention to the connotations of the words he used. There are some really awkward phrasings (“…the odorous revulsion characterizing the room…”) and some that just don’t make sense (“‘Slow down!’ Sara trilled”). I also wish the author would stop referring to women as “females,” especially in places where it makes no sense (“‘Come on in,’ came the female reply”).

There’s one really cool idea that comes up toward the very end and doesn’t have time to get addressed–a bit of an Easter egg tucked into the creatures’ genetic code. I found that much more interesting than the rest of the book.

Please note that this book is genuinely tense! There are plenty of escape scenes, fight scenes of one type or another, etc., and if the adrenaline is all that you’re looking for, I think you’ll enjoy it. If you’re looking for consistency, meaningful plot, and so on, then you might want to keep looking.

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