Review: Level 26: Dark Revelations – Anthony E. Zuiker with Duane Swierczynski

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dark revelations cover

Level 26 #3

SYNOPSIS: In Dark Revelations, Steve Dark faces the most intricate, intense, and explosive case of his career. The killer calls himself Labyrinth, and the riddles, puzzles, and wordplay with which he announces his new targets have caused a worldwide media sensation. The case has already claimed a number of high profile individuals as victims-not to mention several government agencies, which have tried and failed to stop a growing global panic. But what point is Labyrinth trying to make? Who will be his next victim? It’s up to Dark to assemble a team from among the smoking rubble of the international crime-solving community, find Labyrinth wherever he may be, and put a stop to the mayhem, once and for all.

Can Steve Dark solve the biggest riddle of them all? Only time will tell. – via Goodreads

GRADE 4Ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Ugh. Really now! This trilogy is just one of those that just disappoints at every turn. So far the best villain has been Sqweegel, from the first book, though a lot of things were just not right in that book. Then there was the sequel, which started with more potential and ended up being only slightly better than the first. Then there was this one, the final installment, and I was wondering if the game would be upped, if there would be a much more satisfying conclusion, some brilliant finale, something to tie up all the ten thousand loose ends dangling around all over. You can forget it. Really now. The villain was not difficult to guess, the ties linking everyone were not difficult to work out, so that left for a hollow experience. Not only that, this book becomes really repetitive and boring very quickly, so that ultimately this book feels like a really juvenile story because there is nothing that chills you or freaks you out, and the riddles are childish in nature. Then there is Steve Dark. This character, I tell you, not one that I enjoy. The sex again… Dark never initiates anything, but we are to believe that women are yanking their clothes off and throwing themselves at him at every single turn?! What are the writers trying to say with this, exactly? Like, meet him, fuck him, move on. It really pisses me off when you get that in a book, truly. It is annoying and crass and unnecessary in the novel. I have been waiting since the first book to hear what Dark would do when he found out about the Sqweegel DNA, and it turned out to be something that was overhyped and underwhelming. I did not watch the videos for this novel save the last, because the stupid book just ends and you have to go and watch the clip to see how it all really ends. You don’t even really need the clips to understand anything, but to have to watch a final one to end the story? Not cool. Defeats the point of a book. This book was just frustrating in the long run, running around in circles, flat and unappealing characters, a villain that had potential but didn’t work out too well by the end of it all, a writing style that certainly needs refinements, characters (Lisa Graysmith hem hem) just suddenly dropping away, though they were actual love interests… just a disappointing way to wrap things up. Really. At least it is all over now.

Review: Level 26: Dark Prophecy – Anthony E. Zuiker with Duane Swierczynski

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dark prophecy

Level 26 #2

SYNOPSIS: Steve Dark was once a lost soul, torn between his family and his one-of-a-kind talent for hunting and catching serial killers-especially those so-called “level 26” killers whose depravity exceeds law enforcement’s official scale of evil. In his reluctant pursuit of justice Dark once crossed the ultimate line, a line that might cause a lesser man to lose himself completely.

Not Dark. When the world took everything from him, when it destroyed the very thing Dark once lived for, it brought a moment of clarity that few before him have witnessed, and sparked a transformation that, several years later, is only just complete.

Dark is now a man on a mission. A mission that no longer requires law enforcement support. A mission unbound by authorities, moral or otherwise, and supported by a mysterious benefactor with unknown goals of her own. A mission that, at long last, allows him to embrace his destiny. Dark is finally ready- ready to take justice to the next level. – via Goodreads

GRADE 5.5Alright, so I felt that this novel was on to something decent. Granted, it was off to quite a circuitous and rambling start, and took a little too long to get the ball rolling, but when it did I thought that this was quite a decent setup for the novel. Grisly crimes, fancy tarot cards, Dark working on his own, all sounded good. But really, the payoff was such a pointless kick in the teeth ultimately, and left me feeling very unsatisfied. This is purely because the MO was changed, and things became a media circus. It started off and it was infinitely better than its predecessor, but ended up being slightly better only, a far cry from great. I think this was when the villain was introduced – everything lost its spark after that, and became routine and predictable. The whole Lisa Graysmith thing was very annoying, because I know you can have power and all, but it comes across as a little ludicrous for me in the book, and even by the end there is zero explanation. I also got really irritated with Dark’s daughter, Sibby, being dragged in from time to time, almost as an afterthought. Also, the sex between Lisa and Dark eventually was such a clinical, silly, pointless addition to the book for me, and could truly have just been skipped on. Dark is still not a character you can really identify with, which makes it a little difficult for the book to resonate. It is a fast read, quick and to the point, but sometimes events feel like a bit of a stretch. I still like the concept of reading and having videos you can check out in conjunction with the novel, though they aren’t necessary to understand the story. I will admit, however, that I did not go and watch the clips for this book, I just read it, and see a lot of people complain that it didn’t line up nicely like Dark OriginsDark Prophecy doesn’t showcase the greatest writing of all time, either. Don’t go looking for some amazing prose or anything like that, the writing is enough to carry the story and present everything to you, but not to titillate the mind. It is entertaining, nonetheless, but if you are going in expecting the next Hannibal, you are going to be grossly disappointed.

Review: Level 26: Dark Origins – Anthony E. Zuiker with Duane Swierczynski

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level 26 dark origins cover

Level 26 #1

SYNOPSIS: It is well known among law enforcement personnel that murderers can be categorized on a scale of twenty-five levels of evil, from the naive opportunists starting out at Level 1 to the organized, premeditated torture-murderers who inhabit Level 25.

What almost no one knows, except for the elite unnamed investigations group assigned to hunt down the world’s most dangerous killers, a group of men and women accounted for in no official ledger, headed by the brilliant but reluctant operative Steve Dark, is that a new category of killer is in the process of being defined.

Only one man belongs to this group.

His targets:
Anyone.

His methods:
Unlimited.

His alias:
Sqweegel.

His classification:
Level 26. – via Goodreads

GRADE 5I am reviewing with a synopsis because the book really isn’t that long and not that much happens that I can write as usual and not spoil the entire damn thing for anyone. Anyway. I thought that this was a pretty cool approach to a novel, really. I liked the way there were video clips to watch throughout the novel, but you didn’t have to watch them to follow the story at all. You can conceivably read it without it, I mean the first time I read this book I didn’t watch the clips, and even this time around I read it first then went back and watched the clips. Level 26: Dark Origins races along, and there are some sick things going on in the story, no two ways about it. It’s a really fast read, light, too, considering what the subject matter is (or I am just grossly desensitised). However, I am not a massive fan of the writing style at all, it was not my thing. It was clunky, the names were ludicrous, dialogue was stilted, the characters superficial, the book didn’t draw me in and make me believe in what was going on. Also, I know that we are supposed to identify with and root for Dark, but I just couldn’t do it. Also, I just felt that the whole situation between Dark and Sibby wasn’t constructed very well at all. I know that we are introduced to another level of depravity here, but the book just didn’t reflect how rough and insane it was supposed to be. Sqweegel being the main villain had so much more potential than was used. He was creepy, and just thinking about his patience and the things that he did is nasty,  but only when you get onto it. I wish that his character had been fleshed out more in a way, made so much scarier, as he should have been. There are also a lot of little pictures throughout the book for chapters that could have been great, but they seem so randomly thrown in that they lost impact. At the end of the day, Level 26: Dark Origins is a light thriller read that will occupy you though not necessarily enthrall you, but it will certainly keep you busy, flaws and all.