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Combustion by Steve Worland
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COMBUSTION is also a second novel in a series and though in this instance I haven’t read the first Worland provided enough information about events that unfurled there for me not to feel left out (yet not too much that I feel I couldn’t go back and read the first). An alleged environmentalist with more money than sense unleashes his horrific plan to ensure people finally stop relying on fossil fuel-burning engines on the freeways of Los Angeles and it falls to NASA astronaut Judd Bell and his Australian, helicopter-pilot friend Corey Purchase to stop the mayhem.

Worland makes no secret of the fact his background is in movies, in fact his website’s claim is that his books offer the best action movie you’ll ever read. There are some up-sides to this background – the action is full on and there isn’t a lot of unnecessary filler – though overall this style of book is not really my cup of tea. I have been known to skim-read the action passages in thrillers (fight sequences and descriptions of equipment and weaponry being among my least favourite subjects to read) but in this instance doing so wouldn’t leave a lot else behind. We do get a bit of a back story to Judd and Corey but there’s really sod all to explain how the madman at the centre of the evil plot got to the point where he could internalise the hypocrisy of claiming to be an environmentalist while plotting to kill millions and ruin the west coast of America for a decade or so. But the action is made enjoyable by the vein of humour, depicted most notably in the easy banter between Judd and Corey and the unique relationship between Corey and his faithful dog Spike.

I do have to have a tiny whine about two elements of the writing though. By the end of the novel I was gritting my teeth at the constant brand name dropping as characters glanced at their Tag Heuers, reached for their iPhones (no Android devices in the whole of LA apparently), leapt into their Priuses (Priusi?) and otherwise acted like shills for the hippest of (presumably deep-pocketed) companies. And while I know this is going to highlight my status as a grumpy old woman (as if I’ve been keeping that a secret) I’d also had enough of gratuitous italicisation. As in “…the rubble is right at his heels…” and “…seems to gather speed…”. Why?
  bsquaredinoz | Jul 2, 2014 |
"We're five thousand feet above you with no engine power and there's a large gash in the fuselage. The captain's dead, the copilot's unconscious and there are seventy passengers on board. The airports are all blocked and every goddamn road is jammed with burning cars. Even the canals are full of cars. We need a place to land ASAP."

This pretty much sums up what a roller coaster of a ride this book is. It's action packed from cover to cover and it's just the way I liked it. A mindless action read. And of course, it's just right for a movie. ( )
  Balthazar-Lawson | Aug 2, 2013 |
Combustion is the perfect read for big budget, action film fans. The explosions come thick and fast, planes fall from the sky and buildings come tumbling down as a madman's twisted environmental crusade wreaks havoc across LA, and NASA astronaut Judd Bell and Australian chopper pilot Corey Purchase are reunited in an effort to save the world - again!

In the first book, Velocity, the pair were forced to work together in an effort to recover a hijacked space shuttle, and Judd's girlfriend Rhonda, from a group of mercenaries who planned to detonate a dirty nuke.
Combustion opens around nine months after those events as Judd, Corey, Rhonda and Steverson are meeting in LA for talks with the company making a movie about their heroic exploits. While Rhonda and Steverson are still enroute, Bunsen initiates the first phase of his plan to force the world to reconsider their reliance on fossil fuels - releasing a controlled amount of the airborne nanotech virus he spent 20 million dollars developing, which targets combustion engines and detonates their fuel supply. As vehicles begin to explode all over LA, a chance encounter reveals to Judd and Corey the existence of an antidote, and with emergency services crippled it is up to the pair to retrieve it and then stop Bunsen's plans for global destruction.

Combustion is all about the action that unfolds at a breakneck pace. From a foot chase of a packed school bus, to cycling stunts on the Hollywood Freeway, explosions galore and daring aerial feats as Corey attempts to outrun a surface to air missile (or two). This is cinematic action, unsurprising since Worland has a background in screen writing. I compared Velocity to a Nicholas Cage movie but I think Combustion reminds me most of Die Hard 4 (Live Free, Die Hard).

That makes Judd John McClane (Bruce Willis), I guess and there are some similarities, for example Judd is equally as uncomfortable with the hero tag, though for different reasons than McClane, and it is something Judd has to work through as he and Corey careen around LA. In general though Judd's motives in Combustion are more altruistic and he curses a lot less (actually I don't think he curses at all!).
I love the humour of the banter between Judd and Corey and between Corey and Spike (yes his dog).
Corey is more of an equal partner in Combustion than the sidekick he was relegated to in Velocity. He brings specific skills to the adventure and with Judd doubting himself, he steps up to take the lead when needed in his own way. There is also romance for Corey in this novel with film agent Lola whom he rescues from a burning building.

Just like Velocity, Combustion is a fun, exciting, fast paced and action packed novel. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see either on the big screen sometime soon. ( )
  shelleyraec | Jul 25, 2013 |
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Los Angeles. Traffic clogs the streets. Smog chokes the city. And Zac Bunsen is going to burn it all down. On a ruthless quest to save the planet, Bunsen releases the Swarm, an airborne nanotech virus that targets combustion engines and detonates their fuel supply. It is spectacularly, appallingly successful. Terror and chaos reign as the City of Angels explodes. Every vehicle is now a deadly bomb and every freeway a war zone littered with bodies and twisted wrecks. NASA astronaut Judd Bell and his best mate, Aussie chopper pilot Corey Purchase, must navigate the burning city in a desperate mission to stop Bunsen before he can execute the last phase of his horrific plan and send mankind back to the Stone Age.… (more)

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