I received a digital ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I really had no idea what to expect when I started reading Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion. I’ve been reading author Jack Flacco’s blog for awhile, so I am familiar with his love of zombies. And obviously there must be aliens in there somewhere. I hadn’t read the first book in the Ranger Martin series, Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse, but I figured I’d give this sequel a shot.
From the first paragraph I knew I was going to enjoy the ride.
Ranger Martin crashed on his back, knocking his worn Oklahoma City RedHawks cap to the ground. The Mossberg 500 shotgun he’d held all these months, dispatching the undead, flew from his tired grip. He shook away the confusion and clawed at the dirt, searching for his faithful firearm. He should have stayed in bed. He should have listened to that still small voice telling him to run. He should have known he’d have a bad day once in a while. Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda.
Ranger is exactly the kind of guy you want with you when facing down the undead: solid instincts, quick thinking, and of course a good shot. But he’s facing more than zombies; there are some extraterrestrial visitors in town, and they don’t seem friendly. Plus they’re being helped by the military and one nasty-piece-of-work general. And what’s their connection to the zombies anyway?
It’s a fun story with many twists and turns, and plenty of action. There are some intense moments, and Flacco doesn’t hesitate to kill off characters to raise the stakes. The main group of characters have a wonderful family vibe and provide lots of levity to balance the heavy stuff. Matty was my favorite: a fiery redheaded teenage girl with just the right mix of heart and brains.
I never once felt lost in the story not having read the first book. Everything flowed so naturally, giving references to past events in exactly the right places. It really stands on its own as a story, though you can see the character development that comes from past events.
The writing style was less to my liking. The prose is fairly unsophisticated, and there’s a lot more “telling” than “showing.” For this reason, I would recommend this more for young teens looking for a fun sci-fi action/adventure story that’s not too hard to read. My favorite aspect of the writing was all the various descriptive epithets Flacco gives to the zombies: flesh rippers, organ churners, throat gorgers, eaters, draggers, etc. It added to the fun of the story and I really enjoyed it.
Tl;dr 3/5 stars