“Supercell” is one of the newer disaster genre books to be released by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard in audiobook format. The audiobook is narrated by Drew Commins who has narrated another book previously released by Buzz; Plague. If you are a person who enjoys natural disaster movies such as Twister, The Perfect Storm, Volcano or Into the Storm, I think you will enjoy this book; if you can get over the heavy use of vulgar language along with some character development issues.
The author knows his weather and he does an extremely good job of educating the reader throughout the book on the subject; in a good way, I felt like I learned new things from the book about tornados and weather in general. When you are finished, you feel you secretly took a weather class on tornados and “Now you know…” you are a little smarter for it. However, you are also taken on an action-packed ride chasing multiple storms until the team can locate the one and only Supercell.
It is clear from the contents of the book, along with the authors information page, that he knows his weather and the book does an excellent job of not throwing our meteorological terms without giving you some details on what they mean. Never did I feel lost in the lingo or needing to look up words afterwards as I have in other books I have read. I am one who enjoys following and tracking weather personally, and Buzz take this to the next level in his book. From a weather perspective, the book did try to make it more exciting and I’m sure it included a few far-fetched Hollywood additions to keep the excitement high as with other disaster stories; but it was not over the top.
I liked that the author attempted to make the book more interesting than just a natural disaster story by adding the element of a team of vicious looters who would track the storms, impersonate chasers or medical teams and then steal from the people they were assisting. At time when the people being helped caught on to their scheme, they would be killed without remorse. This aspect of the book provided the reader with a level of tension and allowed you to take a break from the focus of the chase. The author also added complexity to the life of the characters by throwing in the time pressure brought on by the Hollywood teams and the hunt by the FBI to catch these killers and bring them to justice.
I personally felt there were a few areas where the author’s expertise or research was more lacking. He attempts to bring depth to the story by blending in elements of romance, gender issues, and theology. The last two for me were unnecessary and instead of depth, I felt the topics just muddied the water more than they tried to help. The struggle between father and son and their resolution was not well address, nor did the characters, who often-portrayed atheistic world views, address their theological struggles. Much of this could have been left out and the book would have still been quite enjoyable. The romance between the two main characters also seemed more cardboard or flat than I would have expected.
The story itself was somewhat predictable but did include a few twists keeping the reader engaged. Most reading this genre of books knows there will be a setup, middle, climax, and ending to the story and this one is not any different. As with Titanic (the movie) people knew the ship was going to sink, etc. Here we know there will be a supercell and the action of the book will mainly be near the end. Even though it was predictable, it was entertaining.
As with his previous book “Eyewall”, these characters seemed very similar and I felt that their frequent use vulgar language often had me questioning their level of education. I know most would have been highly educated and professional like with an FBI agent, a storm chaser, etc. but their dialogue was more like one would expect from a sailor; no offense intended to sailors. It seemed that the characters used one or more foul words nearly every other sentence, and these were not used as a means of expression or exuberance. For me, it just made it more difficult to believe they were who they were made out to be. If you do not mind strong language in books, you may enjoy this one. I would not recommend it for younger readers for this reason.
Apart from a few audio inconsistencies with volume or character voicing, the overall narration was enjoyable and much better than what I experienced after listening to Buzz’s other book “Eyewall”. There we no blatant issues that would make the book difficult to listen to, only the few hiccups I noticed while listening. It is not perfect, but much improved from other books I have listened too from Audible. I know it is often difficult for male narrators to voice female characters well, and at times this was very hard to not laugh as at times the main female character would be excited but often sounded like a man speaking in falsetto; because it was.
In summary, if you like this genre of books and you are not offended by the heavy use of vulgar language, you may like Supercell. I will say the narration was greatly improved from that of Eyewall and I was glad for that. There is action, storms, and education for those who would read or listen to this book.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.