Book Review: Phoenix Lights

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When I was a kid growing up, Aliens were pretty friendly. You had ET, the background characters of Star Wars and Star Trek. Even the creepy goings on of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” had a positive alien outcome — wondrous, even.

Of course, then came the original Alien from Ridley Scott, and it all went to hell. Gone were the days of friendly, benign, or curious aliens and in came the hunter killers of our nightmares. Creatures so alien in both appearance and demeanor, so cruel in their difference, that you couldn’t help but be leery, even afraid. From Sigourney’s armed struggles against a jet black mercurial death machine, to Arnold’s hand to hand duke out with a split faced hunter from the stars, the sci-fi world was forever changed.

Sure, there was a little return to the wonder of yore with The Abyss, and an endearingly over the top triumph with Will Smith, but for many (me included) the alien zeitgeist remains deeply imprinted with the vision of slavering double jaws and red-blood explosions.


About The Book

With that alien duality in mind, I approached Eric Tozzi’s Aliens End The World segment in the Apocalypse Weird universe with a little trepidation. Given the subject matter, I was fully expecting a rehash of the 80’s series V, with a slathering of Klaatu, a pinch of X-Files, and a dash of human rebel bravado.

But, I didn’t get that. Heck, I’m not even sure if there are aliens in this book, or just humans enhanced with Alien DNA. Are those lights in the sky the return of 1997’s Phoenix Lights, or are they giant US Military helicarriers?

At the end of the book, I still have no idea what’s what — except that I really want to read the next book in the series.

The story centers around two characters: Gage, a burnt out government researcher who just wants to go home to his girlfriend, and Kris, a TV reporter for an alien conspiracy show (looks to be a cheesy, low budget one, at that). Kris also just happens to be Gage’s estranged sister. Turns out, both of these characters have more than a passing history with alien encounters, and not in a good way.

When they reconnect in the Arizona desert, Gage is looking for a way to quit his job without being murdered and Kris is trying desperately to bring to the public what she long suspects Gage already knows. As they start to argue, the end of the world happens — and that’s when it all goes crazy.

From then on it’s a mad rush of darkness, paranoia, abductions, and strange encounters — culminating in a daring twist that, quite frankly, I did not see coming.


The Final Verdict

The prose is wonderfully written and paced. It’s obvious that Mr. Tozzi, a noted film maker, has a gift for storytelling. The dialog flows well, never kitschy or cliche. Each character has their own voice — no carbon copies or window dressing. The plot is engaging, the twists surprising, and it never tires. Frequently these days, many of the Indie and small pub books tend to drag, lost in some meandering side path. But not here — this book is a taut conspiracy thriller that is on mission.

While I started the book as just a way to kill a little time, I read the last 100 pages in a dead sprint, staying well up into the night, to see how it would all end. It was time well spent.

And now, I wait patiently for Eric and the team at Apocalypse Weird to finish book 2…


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About Rob McClellan

Rob is the founder of ThirdScribe, a unique author services platform and social network. As a naval officer and diver, he spent a majority of his career doing a lot more than you would think with a lot less than you can imagine -- a skill that has proven extremely valuable in the start-up world. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

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