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Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson
Cover Artist: Symbol by Young Jin Lim; Island by Aspix by Image Source /Shutterstock
Ocean by Nicholay Khoroshkov / Shutterstock; Sky by Tyler Olsen / Shutterstock
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Thomas Dunne Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312617875
Date: 26 March 2013 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Mark Hawkins, former forest ranger at Yellowstone National Park, and his crewmates aboard the Magellan are investigating a vast garbage dump floating in the Pacific. A storm causes them to become shipwrecked on an uncharted island. As his friends are gruesomely slaughtered one-by-one, Mark discovers they are being preyed upon by mutant creatures known as chimeras. They are the products of Japan's covert R&D division, Unit 731, which was never fully decommissioned after the end of WWII. Mark must terminate the operation before all his friends perish.

If you have time to read only one action-packed science fiction thriller this year, let Jeremy Robinson's superb Island 731 be it. Some fans and critics compare it to Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park where prehistoric monsters, made extinct by evolution, are returned to life by a greedy man. Some compare it to Warren Fahy's Fragment where prehistoric monsters have evolved on an island, separated from the rest of the world, until discovered by man. However, Island 731, much like H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, involves the creation of monsters that were never meant to exist. Once again, greedy man is playing God in his attempt to satisfy his evil desire for developing more destructive biological weapons.

Island 731 primarily consists of science fiction horror and action adventure with a dash of romance and a pinch of humor. It has very likeable characters such as Mark Hawkins and his romantic interest, Dr. Avril Joliet, and an extremely fiendish villain whose identity proves to be a shocker. The crewmembers of the Magellan are like a family. I grew to become very fond of them and hated to see any of them harmed.

Unfortunately, Island 731, like many other novels written by Robinson, is extremely violent and gory. Life expectancy on this mysterious island, as noted by some of the characters, is short. All the creatures living on it have been designed as vicious killing machines. Each one the crewmembers encounter is more horrifying than the one before it. The island is like a nightmare from Hell. The experiments performed on humans are atrociously gruesome and cruel. Squeamish readers beware.

The island itself is a beautiful tropical paradise. However, appearances can be deceiving. Mark Hawkins, our resident hero, was raised by Howie GoodTracks of the Ute tribe. GoodTracks taught him how to hunt and, most importantly, track. Hawkins' tracking skills were very useful when he became a forest ranger in Yellowstone Park and had to rescue missing hikers. On the island, he tries to track his friends who've been abducted by a humongous, powerfully strong, gorilla-like creature. Hawkins himself is very tough and resilient; he is banged around quite a bit but always manages to continue fighting. One would think he was also a chimera. He definitely proves true the old adage: What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

I absolutely relished the shocking, open ending for Island 731. Will there be a sequel? One can only hope. Will Hollywood stop making movies about muscle-bound comic book heroes wearing tight spandex long enough to adapt Island 731 to the big screen? Probably not. Thankfully we have the exciting, often bizarre, novels of Jeremy Robinson (SecondWorld, Pulse, Instinct and Threshold) to provide us with a respite from the drudgery of Hollywood's endless stream of remakes.

Those who enjoyed Island 731 should definitely read Warren Fahy's Fragment. Scientists discover a vicious ecosystem on Henders Island. It teems with prehistoric creatures that have been designed by nature to be perfect killing machines. Despite the island's destruction, creatures survive to create more bloody havoc in the sequel, Pandemonium. Fueled by man's greed, the nightmare never ends.

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