Sunday, May 22, 2011

The 6th Man vs. Jake Ransom & the Howling Shinx by @mrneil98




In the two weeks since my last post, I have read The 6th Man by David Baldacci and Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx,  by James Rollins, often bouncing back and forth between the two. They are both excellent additions from New York Times bestselling authors but going between the two made me a little punch-drunk which gave me an idea….
            (Enter the Ring Announcer) 
            In the Rollins corner, wearing the “Tae Kwon Do gi” and a red belt is Jake Ransom. Fresh from his last bout with the Skull King, which ended in a draw. Jake has been working hard in hopes for a rematch. His last bout transported him through time and space to the mysterious land of Pangea, inhabited by “lost tribes” from every age and corner of the world. Jake and his sister Kady were following the trail of their missing parents but found only their timepiece, which aids in opening another portal. They are reunited with Pindor, Marika and Back’uuk from their first adventure in Pangea, this time transported to a desert world where they a captured by Nerfertiti and battle dinosaurs and other exotic creatures. Following clues left by their mother, they  help uncover the mystery of the Howling Sphinx.
            And in the Baldacci corner, making the journey from Virginia to Machias, Maine are the tag team of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. Former Secret Service agents, now private detectives, this is their fourth bout together and heretofore their best. Called by their former mentor, King and Maxwell head to desolate Maine to help with the trial of accused serial killer Edgar Roy. When his mentor is murdered, King and Maxwell become the only hope for uncovering the truth surrounding Roy. In true Baldacci fashion, this book and every character in it are not what they appear. There are cover-ups, National Security conflicts, and mysterious characters that keep you guessing right to the final chapter. (Announcer leaves the ring).
            With Jake Ransom, James Rollins has created a character that captures the awkwardness of tweendom with the cunning intellect to wriggle out of every dangerous situation. The alternate worlds that exist in Pangea are the perfect setting for an “anything can happen and usually does“ feel. As varied as the supporting cast is, each has a distinct personality that is appealing and endearing to the reader. The only character I would personally have tweaked is Kady. Her boy-crazed, cheerleader  persona comes off as too clich√© at times, although she is handy with the sword.            
            With King and Maxwell, David Baldacci has walked that fine line between partners and lovers and navigates the tensions created by loving their work equally. As a reader, you believe in their emotions and their actions. I even found myself caring about Edgar Roy and his relationship with his sister. Although their back story may be a bit worn, Baldacci is able to surprise even his most loyal readers with an unexpected twist.
            Who wins the match between Jake Ransom and The 6th Man? You do, if you get the opportunity to read these fine books. Don’t be dissuaded from the Young Adult title of Rollins book, just enjoy the adventure. One word of caution, read one at a time or you’ll end up in a rope-a-dope.

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