Saturday, March 20, 2021

Book Reviews: Dave vs. The Monsters: Resistance

Dave vs. The Monsters: Resistance
by John Birmingham
Often second books in a trilogy are a let down. Resistance is not a bad book, but the middle of stories are rarely as exciting as introductions or as satisfying as endings. To briefly recap the first book, parts of the United States and other places have been invaded by monstrous insectoid/ogrish looking creatures who have either lived in the planet's interior or are denizens of an alternate dimension that has intruded upon our own.
 The aliens always reach our world by tunneling upwards. The aliens remember humanity as frightened scared cattle. Humans don't remember the aliens at all, although they could be the inspiration for some old legends. 
Although most of these creatures are more than a match for several full grown men, their technology is at Dark Age levels. After the hero, Dave Hooper, defeats their champion, the U.S. military massacres the alien army. The aliens have no words to express what is happening to them. 
The aliens are shocked at what they saw as treachery by Dave; the deal was that that particular alien army could return to the underworld without further bloodshed. The U.S. military was not party to the deal that Dave made and wouldn't have lived up to it if it had been. Dave was initially upset about that. Captain Heath, Dave's primary military contact, makes it clear to Dave that he doesn't follow Dave's whims or film driven fantasies about honor or showdowns. Heath has much more important issues to consider, and so do his superior officers.
In Resistance, Dave has gone Hollywood. Dave spends his free time partying with Hollywood starlets, eating, drinking, and copulating with said starlets and other female members of the jet set. Dave also has hired a lawyer to try to prevent his ex-wife from cashing in on his new found fame and hopeful fortune.
Dave already has super strength, inhuman metabolism, speed, and the ability to communicate with the aliens. Dave has noticed other changes. 
Dave likes these alterations, such as being sexually irresistible to almost any (presumably unrelated) woman within 100 yards and getting his hair and sixpack back. There is one woman, an abrasive British scientist, who is able to avoid throwing herself at Dave. She claims to despise Dave. Dave is intrigued by this woman, at least when he's not hanging out with Saudi princesses or Paris Hilton.
Other changes, like Dave's ability to seemingly blink out of existence and reappear elsewhere with little if any time elapsed are worrying to Dave's military handlers, especially Captain Heath. 
Dave is a powerful asset but an uncontrollable weapon is useless to its handlers. No one knows Dave's limits. Heath is concerned that Dave isn't telling him everything. The aliens choose a different approach before re-engaging. They are disturbed by human technology and shocked to discover that Dave is not the human leader. To learn more about human society, psychology, and physiology, the aliens kidnap humans and interrogate or assimilate them. Humans don't survive either process.
Lacking maturity, Dave isn't a team player. Dave is often a jerk more concerned about whether Brad Pitt or Bruce Willis should play him in a movie than he is about helping people. With mixed results, some people try to help Dave become a better man. Alien society has its own divisions. Some aliens are happy that the initial invasion failed because now their group will defeat the humans and grab all the glory.
Set ups and double crosses abound as many powerbrokers, human and otherwise, realize that Dave is not the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer. Dave's ego can interfere with his morality. I liked Lucille, Dave's magical and possibly sentient maul. There's not as much action as the first book but Resistance kept me interested in the conclusion. 
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