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Dave vs. The Monsters: Ascendance
by John Birmingham
Del Rey, mass market pb $9.99, 389pp
Published: June 2015

And even more plain fun.  Ripping through this one in record time, too.  Wonderfully fun characterizations, simple plot but with twists and turns, and great changing points-of-view.  I like being on the inside with the monsters.  And it’s hard not to sympathize with Dave, even when he’s being an asshole.

Dave is still a sorry excuse for a hero.  And now he’s being called to account – by his erstwhile partner, Karen, who is really a Russian spy, and his ex-wife…again.

This story takes place immediately after the events in the prior book.  Click here for that review, and here for the first book. Agent Trinder is trying his best to control Dave and wants him to apprehend Karen, the spy.  But Karen tends to see that sort of behavior as a waste of time as both she and Dave have lots of monster butt to kick; so she convinces Dave to dump his governmental spooks and work with her.  She has loads more training, and more smarts, than our sometime hero and he actually appreciates having someone to help plan an assault.  And the assaults just keep coming – the Horde’s secret weapon, the little Threshender Compt’n, with loads of tactical and strategic plans in his little head, has a great big surprise for the Big Apple.  He’s figured out how to collapse the humans’ whole infrastructure for the whole of NYC.  And if that works, he plans to apply it to the whole planet.  But he is a little distracted by the hot little reporter intern, Polly, and keeps having fantasies that he didn’t think he was even capable of…

Dave and Karen are crazy busy putting down attacks on civilians when they run into an ambush setup just for them.  They survive, of course, but they know now, as do the monsters, that they are vulnerable to a particular type of attack.  And then Dave discovers the monsters have attacked the small town where his boys live…most likely because Compton knew where his boys were and that they are a weak point for Dave.  And even though everyone knows it’s probably a trap, Dave leaves to rescue his boys with the surprising assistance of both Karen and his two SEAL buddies.

Boy, this was fun!  Did I mention how much fun this was??  The characters are great, well-defined and motivated.  The plot is still simple:  kill the monsters before they eat everyone but there are nice little subplots to keep the reader’s interest – like if Dave will ever figure out all his abilities, will Karen go back home to Russia, what will Compt’n do next – does he get pretty Polly?  No, this story isn’t done; no idea how many more books are expected from the author but he sure better finish this!  ~~  Catherine Book

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