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Jon F. Merz: Prey

Edward G.


Prey, by Jon F. Merz (Amazon Kindle Books, August 2011), is about a team of geologists/meteorologists who go to Antarctica and find the outpost they were assigned to is missing all of the people they were supposed to meet. When people from their own party go missing, they set out to find the reason and come across a huge spaceship planted deep within a mountain cave.

The ship produces a jungle within the mountain wherein alien-created "dinocreatures" (That's a cross between a dinosaur and a human.) live and guard the actual aliens within the ship that have come to do experiments on various humans they abduct. It becomes the responsibility of the team leader, Julia and her #1 man, Mick, to save the team and uncover the secret the aliens don't want revealed.

It's not a bad idea for a story; the setting is cool (literally), and it's somewhat original, but the execution of it by this writer leaves a lot to be desired. The book is riddled with editing and spelling errors. The author's unconventional paragraphing is an obvious attempt to take what would be a long short story and stretch it out to the length of a novel. The characters are two-dimensional cartoons of human beings, and the horror comes across as freakish rather than scary.

For example, one of the team members has most of his body removed by the aliens, leaving only his head, neck, and arms lying on a table. He's kept alive by an elaborate life-support system but manages to make humorous comments to Julia and Mick while they prepare to fight a bunch of oncoming dinocreatures:

She raised the laser rifle.

Wilkins cleared his throat. "You guys think you could maybe watch where you shoot that thing? I don't need any stray laser blasts fu[.....] my machinery up. I've only had it a short time but I'm kinda fond of it right now."

There 's also a sexual assault involving Julia by an alien disguised as a human member of her team that uses the same ill-fitting humor. I'll spare you those particular details. And it would be fine if the novel were a humor-horror story, like "Re-animator," but it's not presented that way anywhere else in the text. Thus it comes across as bizarre and out of place.

When I first started reading Prey I thought it might be interesting and marginally engaging; it seemed to be worth a read. The prologue was promising. But in the end, it was a silly novel by an author who couldn't be bothered to edit it appropriately before offering it up for sale to the reading public.

Alas, this seems to be the price we pay for the modern miracle of Kindle Direct Publishing. My one consolation is that I only spent $2.99 to find out.