Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Assault: Cycle Two of the Harbingers Series

The Assault: Cycle Two of the Harbingers Series
by Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, Bill Myers, Alton Gansky
Baker Publishing Group: 8/1/17
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9780764219757

The Assault: Cycle Two of the Harbingers Series by Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, Bill Myers, Alton Gansky is a highly recommended second installment of the group-story.

This volume contains the second collection of four interconnected stories in the Harbingers Series that started with Invitation. This is an ongoing series created by these Christian authors with additional stories already available. In the series a team of four widely diverse people join together to use their individual skills.

The author's set up two rules for their collaboration:
Rule #1 Each author would write as one of the characters in the series: Bill Myers's character is Brenda, the street-hustling tattoo artist who sees images of the future. Frank Peretti's character is the professor, the atheist ex-priest ruled by logic. Angela Hunt's character is Andi, the professor’s brilliant but geeky assistant who sees inexplicable patterns. Alton Gansky's character is Tank, the na├»ve, big-hearted jock with a surprising connection to a healing power.
Rule #2 They would write the stories like a TV series with an overarching storyline. The series part would be their individual stories, novellas, written from their character’s point of view.

The stories in Cycle 2 of the Harbingers series continues the story of four gifted strangers brought together to fight a growing darkness. From the synopsis:
In Bill Myers's "The Revealing," the team finds themselves in Rome trying to retrieve the mystical spear Hitler once owned--the very spear that pierced Christ's side. This task will take them from hidden chambers inside the Vatican to a mysterious seaside cave with powers they could never expect.
Frank Peretti's "Infestation" unleashes a microscopic evil on the world that deceives, blinds, kills, then spreads. The Harbingers team must confront a monster bent on seducing and destroying mankind.
In "Infiltration" by Angela Hunt, the team is wounded and barely holding together. Forced to split up, they realize their investigations have led them into dangerous waters.
Alton Gansky's "The Fog" unleashes a supernatural mist unlike any other. There are vicious things in the fog that kill whatever they find. One team member realizes that the ultimate sacrifice may have to be made.

I enjoyed this second installment of the series a bit more than the first, probably due simply to knowing the characters already and what they are facing and also understanding what how the authors are collaborating on the series. Additionally, I also felt that this cycle of stories was stronger than the first, but, again, they are building on the previous stories.

As I noted before there are pros and cons to this collaboration. Since these are four individual short stories are written like a TV series with the same characters, each story stands alone while also working with the others to create a larger overwhelming story arch. This makes it easy to quickly read one story and know the next one will be a new adventure from a different character's point-of-view. This is also the potential downfall of the series. Because it is written as an ongoing series there is no concluding resolution and the character growth is limited.

In the end the real questions for readers are: Do you like episodic ongoing stories? How much time are you willing to invest in an ongoing series? I'm not even sure about my answer to these two questions. So far I do like the series and the stories. On the other hand I am also growing weary of authors making an ongoing series that lasts too long and reading books with no real conclusion. I have liked the first two, but I do wonder how many I am willing to read to reach the end. (I am positive the number is much small than it used to be due to the abuse of making an ongoing series by some authors in the past.)

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the Baker Publishing Group

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