Monday, September 21, 2009

"Positive Match" -- by Tony Chiu

Positive Match started to fall apart on me around page 87 -- and I'm not referring to the storyline, I mean the book literally started to come apart in my hands before I was even a quarter of the way through it. Normally I like to finish a book before I begin tearing it apart, but the folks at Bantam jumped the gun and did half the job for me. It seems likely that if you shell out the 23 dollar cover price for Positive Match, you'll not only get a story that doesn't hold water, but a binding that can't possibly accommodate the 408 badly written pages inside of it.

The focus shifts so often in those first 87 pages that it's impossible to tell before chapter 6 who the main protagonist is. First, there's Guillermo Chacon, a Mexican teen who sneaks across the border into the U.S. -- only to be eviscerated by a team of surgeons 14 pages later. Then we have Maggie Sepulveda, a beautiful, no-nonsense investment banker who has been chosen to finance the expansion of Caduceus 21, a health care organization responsible for many of the organ transplant operations conducted in the U.S. Next, we go to a clinic in a remote Mexican village, where Dr. Nguyen-Anh Dupree veeerryy slowwwwly comes to the conclusion that that his friend Guillermo was murdered for spare parts. Cut to (sorry) Caduceus 21's mysterious silent partner, Century Chisholm, an elderly millionaire who practically has "villain" tattooed on his forehead. And let's not forget Nacio and Walker, two streetwise computer hackers who...well, on second thought, let's just forget them, OK?

For a "pulse-pounding novel of medical terror," this is pretty anemic stuff. Tony Chiu (author of the even more terrifying Ross Perot: In His Own Words) is good at slathering on the medical terminology and computer technojargon, but he barely has enough story here for an episode of QUINCY. To make matters worse, he lets this thing go on forever, leading up to an anticlimactic and tasteless finish.

However, the most ridiculous sequence comes at the halfway point, when Maggie gets into a three-page conversation about organ transplantation in B-movies! "Easier to sit through a dumb movie than a dumb book," says one character, and I agree completely. NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES never looked so good!

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