the Little Red Reviewer

Hurricane Fever by Tobias S. Buckell

Posted on: September 11, 2014

hurrican feverHurricane Fever by Tobias S. Buckell

published July 2014

where I got it: purchased new

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Imagine the action, intrigue and espionage of your favorite James Bond thriller, now throw in fatal hurricanes and a lot of emotional investment. If that sounds good (of course it does!), you’ll get a kick out of Tobias Buckell’s newest near future eco-thriller, Hurricane Fever. This is a sequel to Buckell’s Arctic Rising, but it can easily be read as a stand alone. In the near future, much of the Arctic ice has melted, the seas have risen, low islands have been completely submerged taking people’s homes with them, and hurricane season means a deadly storm every week. Oh, and did I mention Hurricane Fever takes place entirely in the Carribean, where these deadly hurricanes tend to land?

Roo Jones is retired from the Caribbean Intelligence Agency, or at least, he’s convinced himself he’s retired.  He’s living the easy life in the Virgin Islands, raising his nephew Delroy, working on his boat, trying to forget everything he’s been through.  When an acquaintance mails Roo a USB drive filled with what looks like useless statistics, Roo knows two things: he never really retired from the CIA, and his old friend Zee is dead.

Once the action starts in Hurricane Fever, it never lets up. Roo barely has time to access the data on the drive before a mysterious woman claiming to be Zee’s sister shows up, and Delroy is killed. And that scene with Delroy? When the “simplicity” of his death is “explained”? It’s amazing how a short paragraph, how a few words made of letters and ink on paper can shatter a reader like that. This was one of those paragraphs, and at that moment, I gave myself to Buckell for the long haul. Roo was angry enough, and I’d just joined up to help him exact revenge. Zee knew his life was in danger, Zee was an adult, he knew what he was getting into. But to kill a teenager, because you couldn’t be bothered to check if it was the right person? Oh yes, I was as angry as Roo, and ready to cheer him on every step of the way towards revenge.

But if this was just a revenge thriller, that would be too simple. Roo immediately suspects Zee’s mysterious “sister”, Kit, of lying about her identity. Roo and Zee were close for a long time, and Zee never mentioned any sister. So who is she, and what’s her angle on all this? She’s got money and resources and information, but doesn’t seem to have a clue what she’s doing.

Hurricane Fever is an incredibly fast paced book. My first reaction to this was “Buckell! slow down!”, but in hindsight, the pacing makes perfect sense, because it exactly matches what the characters are experiencing. When you’re in a boat, in the ocean, trying to outrun a storm that will mercilessly kill you, you don’t have time for a soliloquy, or infodumping, or long philosophical discussions. You need to get to where you’re going, because there is a storm on your tail, and behind that is a yacht full of guys with guns.  Buckell is getting this story where it needs to be, because if the characters stop running either the weather will kill them, or a thug with an uzi.

There’s also a lot more to this novel than just action, explosions and Bond-esque gizmos. There is discussion of how tiny island nations fare in the larger world of superpowers. Discussions of casual racism and assumptions (Roo takes advantage of the fact that tourists assume a black man with dreadlocks is a valet driver or waiter. It’s funny, but it really isn’t). And when Roo and Kit finally learn what’s on that USB drive, the discussion of the future of mankind take a disturbing and disgustingly dark turn.

There are also quieter scenes, of floating on an ocean that will mercilessly kill you, of putting your faith in a tiny boat that may or may not get you to a protected cove before the storm hits. As someone with no experience of boats or the ocean, I really liked those scenes. I’m so used to hopping in my car and driving a few hours to the next city. In the Caribbean, they go by boat, and they are taking their homes with them. Buckell knows what he’s talking about, he grew up in the Caribbean, and spent much of his childhood on a boat.

When Arctic Rising came out, I remember enjoying it but not feeling the urge to ever read it again. I was rather lukewarm on the most of the characters, and the book just generally didn’t click with me. I not only want to read Hurricane Fever again as soon as possible, but this book makes me hope Buckell continues to write in this series. Roo Jones is a fantastic character, and I want more of him.

My only gripe about Hurricane Fever is the short length. On the one hand, it was a relief to see a thriller jam packed into less than 300 pages, but on the other hand, the big reveal comes so late in the novel that there is hardly any time for the characters (or the reader) to process what’s happening before the story is over. And that big reveal? Trust me, it’s a biggie. This is another reason I hope Buckell returns to this world, the reveal of “what’s really going on” opens a massive can of worms!

12 Responses to "Hurricane Fever by Tobias S. Buckell"

It’s lean and mean and a lot of fun. I thought Roo was the best thing in Arctic Rising, and a full novel of him proved my instincts.

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“It’s lean and mean and a lot of fun.”

that’s it exactly. there’s not an ounce of fat on this book, it’s got everything you need, nothing you don’t. it’s getting harder and harder for me to pick up doorstopper books.

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This sounds like lots of fun. The Caribbean setting really appeals to me, although I have to say I’m terrified of the ocean, LOL! I just don’t read enough thrillers, must remedy that:-)

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well…. this book sure won’t cure your fear of the open waters. But at least there aren’t any sharks. these quick little thrillers are so much fun. And a thriller with a SFnal bent? that’s just the best!

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These sound like books to get at the library, not buy. I may try this one.

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if your library doesn’t have a copy yet, ask them to buy one. Tell them to get Arctic Rising too, so they can have the matched set (and so you can try both of them)

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This sounds excellent!

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it was a ton of fun. I’m gonna pester Toby until he gives us another Roo book!

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Good review! I’ve wondered where to start with Buckell; he taught at the Alpha writing workshop my daughter attended this summer, and I’ve been wanting to read some of his work since then. This sounds like a good place to start even if it is the second book in a series.

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this can completely read as a stand alone, and having read both books, I think it might work better to read Hurricane Fever first, and then go back and read Arctic Rising. Another good place to start with Buckell is his short fiction. One of my favorite short stories of his is A Jar of Goodwill , it’s over at Clarkesworld:
http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/buckell_05_10/

and he’s got some short stories in those new John Joseph Adams/Hugh Howey Apocalypse triptych anthologies.

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[…] (Via Hurricane Fever by Tobias S. Buckell | the Little Red Reviewer.) […]

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I love books that are fast-paced, so this sounds great! Will add to my to-read list. Thanks for the great review.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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