The Angel of Meridian

“The Angel of Meridian” is the second audiobook released on Audible by author Justin Hyde.  It is an action adventure and science fiction merged story packed with suspense, intrigue and even some elements of horror wrapped up inside.  The audiobook edition is masterfully narrated by one of my current favorite narrators of the “Dragon Mage” series; Gary Bennett.  It is the second book in the Cameron Skull series, and it appears there may be more on the way.  If you enjoy listening to audiobooks from the likes of Dan Brown mixed in with parts of an Indiana Jones’ adventure, I think you will find this book one that is worth listening too.  The audiobook also has a few surprises along the way making it quite entertaining.  Even though I had not listened to the first book in the series, I found this one to be enjoyable as a stand-alone story.

The tale is about who can be the first to find a lost angelic relic whose power is unmatched to anything forged by mankind.  Will it end up in the hands of a narcissistic collector or safely in the hands of the government?  You soon learn that people will do almost anything to get their hands on this powerful weapon.  Such an armament would provide the bearer with nearly limitless power over humans here on earth.  The only issue is that such a weapon can only be wielded by those from the angelic realm.  In comes a special agency dispatched to locate and recover such a weapon before it gets into the wrong hands. There is plenty of nefarious activity being done, in secret, to modify the human genome so it is capable of wielding the power of this sword.  For our collector, this means collecting many unwilling subjects to test his experiments upon.  The main issue is that the CRISPR technology, genetic splicing, used by this villain blending one’s genetic material seems to have a by-product of creating zombie-like creatures with little regard for human life.  Can they keep them contained?  You will have to listen to find out

The author did a good job of keeping the listener engaged with unique locations, detailed scenes, and decently complex characters.  The use of flashbacks helped to fill in some of the gaps along the way.  The action was believable and not over-the-top unrealistic.  The inclusion of World War II weapons and secret bunkers kept me wondering what would happen next.  I understand it was a part of the story, but I was not as comfortable with some of the torture inflected upon those who were kidnapped and even more with some of the children.  I understand the author was leveraging the emotions of listener by including this type of content. 

I felt the research used in this book was well-done and felt solid within the story.  The scenes, technology, and characters all felt like they belonged and were important to the overall story.  The World War II equipment and weapons appeared realistic.  Where I felt the research may have been a bit exaggerated was when it came to the author’s understanding of Biblical Christian theology.  Again, if you take this work as a piece of fiction, and not truth, one can pass over the claims of a new location for specific places in the Bible.  The author included ideas from many other world religions and munged them into what appears to be Biblical truth.   He also included a chapter at the end of the book on his reasoning and research into some of the things he added to the audiobook. 

The narration was well performed by Gary Bennett and I quite enjoy listening his voice and pace of reading.  He ability to voice and bring life to the book’s characters is something that requires talent.  All of his recordings I have listened to have been professionally done, yet this book seemed it was a bit rushed or incomplete when recording started.  That does not mean that the narration was not good.  However, there were a few audio patches observed while listening which I had not noticed with some of his other narrations.  Again, nothing that would make the book unmanageable to listen too, just different from some of his other works.  Even with these slight issues, the narration is solid and worth the listen. 

For parents and younger listeners, the book contains vulgar language long with some rather graphic scenes of violence.  Some of the book would not be considered to be appropriate for younger listeners as it has aspects of horror and torture.  There are aspects of religion which diverge from more traditional Biblical beliefs.  Based on the above, I would not recommend the book for younger listeners. 

In summary, even though the book was the second in a series, this one felt like it could easily stand alone as an entertaining piece.  There was suspense, action, and some adventure.  I would have liked to have had some more complex and deep characters, yet this may have been developed in the previous book in the series.  Although it could have turned into more of a horror genre, the author did not focus upon these aspects alone.  For me, it was just the right balance of adventure and horror along with uniqueness that kept me listening to the end.

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