Emergence: Dave vs. The Monsters

Author: John Birmingham
Series: Dave Hooper Book 1
Publish Date: December 3, 2014
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Perspective: Third-Person

Publisher’s Description: Dave Hooper has a hangover from hell, a horrible ex-wife, and the fangs of the IRS deep in his side. The last thing he needs is an explosion at work. A real explosion. On his off-shore oil rig.

But this is no accident, and despite the news reports, Dave knows that terrorists aren’t to blame. He knows because he killed one of the things responsible.

When he wakes up in a hospital bed guarded by Navy SEALs, he realizes this is more than just a bad acid trip. Yeah, Dave’s had a few. This trip is way weirder.

Killing a seven-foot-tall, tattooed demon has transformed the overweight, balding safety manager into something else entirely. A foul-mouthed, beer-loving monster slayer, and humanity’s least worthy Champion.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!).

ivana 100I finished Emergence, Nell.  It was a good story, but I have to say … either the protagonist or the author has a “thing” about male reproductive parts.  They are everywhere in this book!

Nell 100In my experience, I think that is just the way oil riggers, some construction workers and meat packers talk.  They live a hard life so they talk hard too.  I think the more vulgar the talk, the more points they racked up. Maybe shock value?  IMHO I believe that it’s the culture of the profession.

ivana 100Okay, if you say so.  What did you think of the cover?  I see that the Australian cover of the book is very different.  But I like the cover on my copy.  The cover design is what really caught my eye.

Nell 100Yeah, I liked the cover.  It reminded me of James Tuck’s Deacon Chalk.  I think the cover was the one piece that sold me.  It looked like he was a seriously effective monster hunter, but in the story he was just a guy. The title of the book didn’t do anything for me, but it did fit the book.  What was different in the Australian cover?  I didn’t look that closely. 

ivana 100It’s a view of the ocean showing the oil rig, helicopters, a storm, and waves.  It’s not a bad cover, but it certainly wouldn’t have made me think there was anything supernatural about this book.  But maybe the Australian audience is different.  Dave is quite a character, huh?  Such a smart ass!

Nell 100The cover depicted him as badass, but in reality, he was not as bad and more of an ass. I loved the dialog – the author did a good job with that – but so many times I felt like he was a little boy when he should be a man.  I think I may be judging him too closely to Deacon Chalk and that’s not fair.  Nobody is as badass as Deacon Chalk, Quincy Harker or Harry Dresden, but I did think Dave would become….I don’t know….more responsible?  You know….scared straight?

ivana 100He may yet be.  The whole book takes place in a very short amount of time, and the last we see of Dave, he’s passed out from overusing his powers.  He’s been in crisis mode for the whole book.  We’ll see what he does next.Nell 100

I thought the monsters were interesting.  You are the scientist among us – do you believe that much time could go by (from caveman times to now) without the creatures evolving at all?

ivana 100I guess. Evolution occurs when creatures adapt to their environment.  If the environment doesn’t change, creatures won’t adapt, and thus no evolution.  But I do find it hard to believe there could be actually creatures living under the earth for that long that we wouldn’t have discovered.  I don’t think they were really underground; I think they must have been in a different dimension.  Otherwise, how would the Thresh have recognized a flying creature?  Creatures underground and in caves don’t fly.Nell 100

There could have been pterodactyl kind of flying thingies, you know…

ivana 100Not underground.  Even flying dinosaurs need sky to fly.

But underground there is still an up…..right?  Bats fly in caves and some of them are underground, right?

Then only little flying things could have existed in caves, and the Thresh would have been astounded at the size of the helicopters.  He just took their size in stride, which tells me they were really in an alternate dimension.  Besides, the flying thingie at the end of the book sounded huge.  It just couldn’t have lived underground.

Nell 100Is this the part where I lecture you about suspension of disbelief like you usually lecture me?  Huh?  Huh?  Is it??  😉

ivana 100Blah, blah, blah.  Whatever.  Are you going to read the next book?  I got it from NetGalley, so I better get to reviewing it pretty soon!

I guess I am kind of curious as to what happens.  Maybe I will look into the next book.

Nervous Nellie says…

Main characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ Dave Cooper. “Soooper Dave” as I sarcastically call him.  I can honestly say that I like the character up to a point.  He was wearing kind of thin by the last quarter of the book.  He swears a lot, which doesn’t bother me one bit, but it feels like he never grew as a character.  He acts like a frat boy when he’s supposed to be a man my age.  He’s overly self indulgent, hard partying guy with college degrees. *Shrug* Like I said, he wore a little thin by the ending.

Other characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ Professor Compton is a self important, arrogant, mean-spirited little man who is so full of himself he’s lucky he doesn’t split his seams.  The monsters are hard to envision especially with their manly parts being right up in my face with nearly every chapter.  What is also hard for me to envision is a society where everyone knows what everyone else thinks.  No one can have their own identity because each and every one of those monsters are slaves.

World: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ The world is interesting.  It’s a totally believable oil rig and the personalities of those people who work on the rig are right on the money.  The military aspect is very easy to imagine and I have no doubt that in our “real” world, Dave’s threat would have been dealt with in a lot more hostile manner.

Story: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ The story was fantastic.  I think it had great potential when I started reading it, but I lost the steam about ¾ through the book.  That’s really rotten of me to say because at ¾ of the book is when the “battle scenes” start taking place and I had a hard time staying focused. It felt like it went on forever and never resolved anything.  I know this is a trilogy and Dave has ample time to improve, but with all the stuff he’d been through with the monsters as well as being a well-educated engineer, I really thought he’d “grow up” quicker.  The writing is fun to read.  I highlighted so many awesome quotes (most I can’t share here with this being a PG crowd and all) just for the pure entertainment value of going back and reading them again and again.

Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ The ending was a little abrupt, I thought.  The battle was raging and then “poof” and it’s done….or at least until the next book, I would guess.  It wasn’t a cliffhanger exactly, but it did lead to the next book.  I think I would recommend this book, simply because the dialog was such fun.  The story had potential, but it just ran out of steam for me.  I think if you are a person who likes a rough (and I mean REALLY rough) and gritty redneck who obtains super power and knowledge through a monster he kills, then this would be for you.  I can’t comment on whether I’ll get the next book or not. I just don’t know at this point.  One of the things that is holding me back is the price point.  I spent some coinage on this story and walked away with some minor disappointment.  Another thing is that there was a short sample of the second book at the end and the first scenes of the second book didn’t impress me much.  Maybe I am on “sooooper Dave” overload.

Invested Ivana says…

Main characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ Dave Hooper is, at heart, a good guy who suffers from poor impulse control.  He’s rough and blunt, bad at interpersonal relationships, and quite self-indulgent.  But he’s strong as hell and somewhat stupid in the face of fear, which makes him a great asset when demons attempt to overrun the world.  Part of Dave’s appeal is his shock value – he says and thinks outrageous things, especially when faced with educated military officers.  Part of his appeal is his attempts at being a good guy, especially when he doesn’t quite manage.  Dave does have a self-pitying streak, though, and while it isn’t quite overstated, it comes close.  If you’re familiar with addiction-in-denial, you’ll probably recognize it in Dave.

Other characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ Snatched up by the military as the only person who seems to know anything about the demon invaders, Dave is surrounded by Navy SEALS, SWAT team guys, and military researchers – most of whom are also trying to defeat the demons.  Surprisingly, my favorite secondary character is the little demon, or Thresh, who gives us the demons’ perspective of our world.  I really like the way the demons’ perspectives are written and the hive-like mind sharing of demon thoughts and feelings.  The hive-mind is a great device for showing us the demon’s world and their view of us.

World: ♥ ♥ ♥ For the humans, the demon invasion is “first contact” with anything supernatural – at least in written history.  The demon world, however, is interesting, even though we don’t get a full picture of it quite yet.  The demon world has a ruling queen, a caste-system supported by biology, and a warrior-mindset.  It is apparently located inside our own world, though how they recognize flying creatures in that case is beyond me.  Demon myth says that they once ruled Earth and preyed on early, cave-dwelling humans until the humans prayed to their god for deliverance from the demons.  The god banished the demons to the Underworld, giving the humans a chance to grow and thrive.

Story: ♥ ♥ ♥ Dave is the head of security on an oil rig off the coast of Texas.  When monsters invade the oil rig, killing many of the workers, Dave is the only person who can defeat the demons.  From this encounter, Dave seems to absorb the memory and knowledge of the demons and some awesome superpowers.  The military snatches him up for testing and, when the demons emerge again in New Orleans, use Dave as a tool for fighting them off.

The final battle in New Orleans goes on for 107 pages.  If you like military strategy and battles, that might be okay; but, it was a little long for me.  One of the reasons I don’t read as much traditional fantasy as I used to is the LONG battle sequences and focus on military tactics.  But to be fair, the battle is very cinematic with Dave showing off his new powers and facing off against the demons.  The last time we see Dave in the book, he’s passing out from overuse of his powers.  Good thing I received Book 2, Resistance, from NetGalley so I don’t have to wait to find out what happens to Dave and New Orleans!

Other reviews:

If you like this book…

Though this book is being marketed as similar to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, I don’t really see much similarity to either.  Not to say that fans of those gentlemen won’t like Emergence – they probably will.  But, while Harry Dresden and Atticus O’Sullivan can be explosively dangerous, they can also be complex and subtle – two things Dave Hooper has not yet demonstrated.

But if you like Dave, you might look up James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series.  Chalk is another diamond-in-the-rough, kick-ass hero.  Nell tells me that the Monster Hunter International series by Larry Corriea would be good for Dave’s fans as well.

No promotional consideration was granted for this review.

About Invested Ivana

I'm currently a freelance line editor, a book blogger at One Book Two, and lifetime reader. I like geeky things. All opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Red Adept Editing or any of my clients, the other reviewers on this site, or this site as a whole.

Posted on May 19, 2015, in Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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