Review: “The Tunnel,” Gayne C. Young

Pros: Interesting monster tale
Cons: Writing is kind of rough
Rating: 3 out of 5

Gayne C. Young’s horror tale The Tunnel (Primal Force Book 1) is relatively short. A Mexican cartel is digging a tunnel beneath the border wall when they break into an underground cavern. Moments later, they’re attacked by… monkeys? White baboons? Something vicious and weird, at any rate. Only one man survives, and his boss does not believe his story. Jeff Hunter is ex-military, and he and his people work as mercenaries for the cartel. He pauses to recruit another old friend–Jarrett Taylor, who has a lot of experience with military operations in tunnels–and heads out to find out what really happened, and deal with it.

While the cartel does run drugs (and do much worse), they’re also a business. Hell, they have a human resources guy and benefits. It makes the story a little more interesting and a little less stereotypical. There’s another set of characters who are stuck somewhere between making the story more interesting and just… making it inexplicably weird. They’re Agents Andrews and Carter, and they’re weirdly obsessed with declaring every dead body to have been torn up with chainsaws. I feel like in a different book that was more quirky this would have worked well, but it doesn’t suit the military-vs-monsters feel of the rest of the book.

The mercenary team is okay. They don’t have a lot of personality. We’re introduced to them with pretty much literal resumes, where we get their names and a few defining characteristics. Only the two women really stand out–one because of her personality and use of a flamethrower, and the other woman because she’s the utter stereotype of a butch lesbian “one of the guys” who was abused as a child.

The narrative bugs me a bit. There are a lot of pieces of dialogue that get summed up clumsily in narrative. There are words that just aren’t used quite right. The pacing is a little off. It was hard to get swept up in the narrative because I was noticing the words too much.

I object to the typical use of a character’s fatness to mark them as a terrible person (this is the inevitable good Republican/Christian who hates illegals but doesn’t mind hiring them). I hate seeing disability or fatness or other physical issues used to indicate vileness. I also object to the fact that at one point, Taylor, who has seemed to be basically a good guy up until then, participates without objection in tossing a person to the creatures for his own financial benefit. It seemed out of character.

This was an okay book, but I won’t be reading the follow-on.

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