I’m not necessarily convinced that reading the blurbs on the inside of a book’s dust cover is a valuable use of your time, but I did find myself reading the blurb for Hurricane Fever, and in the first paragraph the copy writer says that “Roo is an anti-James Bond for a new generation.” I think that’s a useful idea, and it’s stuck with me, because most of how I feel about the book can kind of be revolved around that idea. I mean, in theory Hurricane Fever is a novel I should like a good deal: it’s an action-packed genre piece with thoughtful worldbuilding, a meaningful engagement with real-world issues, and a responsible approach to the social problems endemic to its source material. Even so, actually reading the book I never really managed to feel much more for it than “yeah, it’s okay.” There’s something about it that isn’t quite there, and the novel sometimes feels on-the-nose and easy in a way that just isn’t quite satisfying. Read more
After finishing Hurricane Fever I have to say that this book was just…okay. I think it was an interesting, fast paced, action packed book that left me only slightly entertained. It felt more like a movie and less like a book. I found myself enjoying the overall story, but I also wanted more details overall. After reading posts from other people I can see that they really enjoyed that it was a story that wasn’t focused on climate change, but I found that I really wanted there to be more on climate change. The most important issue that the book discussed about climate change was the increasing amount of storms that they faced.
What I found to be interesting was the way that the characters were handling the climate change, especially in countries that were practically underwater. One of the more common facts about climate change that people know about is the rising water levels and how parts of countries will be under water. I thought it was interesting that in the book these countries still tried to survive and make life work in these areas that are halfway underwater and constantly hit with storms.
One thing that I really did like about the book was the fact that the book was set in the future, but it still felt like a world that I could understand and relate to. I also like the futuristic and upgraded things in the book, like the concrete houses to brave the storm, the quick healing first aid kits, and the wet suits that help people survive in the water. I thought these were really awesome touches to the story that made it futuristic, but still keep it grounded in a world that I recognize.
Overall this was not my favorite book, but I think it was successful in creating a realistic version of the world after climate change.
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from Hurricane Fever when I picked it up and started reading. I was very confused when the second chapter switched over to Roo’s character and thought it was going to be switching back and forth between Roo and Zee (boy, was I in for a shock at the end of chapter two). I honestly didn’t think there was enough back-story explained before all of the action started, but perhaps it would’ve helped to read Arctic Rising prior to this work? I also thought it would’ve been extremely helpful if there was a map provided just because I’m a very visual person and have very little knowledge about any of the Caribbean islands. Besides those details, I didn’t find that much enjoyment from this novel.
I’ve read many other books where I felt the written depictions of action scenes are detailed and sufficient enough that I’m able to create a vivid scene in my mind, but this was certainly not the case for Hurricane Fever. The action scenes are very plainly written, in my opinion. I would’ve much rather preferred to view the depicted fight and chase scenes rather than read them, and that has all to do with the author’s writing style. I was bored with the cliché spy-like scenes and dialogue, especially with the corny ways most of these chapters ended. I almost thought that this work was a spoof of other spy and action novels (am I being too harsh yet?). The “twists and turns” of the novel were pretty predictable and overly dramatic. The whole arc of seeking revenge for a murdered family member only to find yourself in the middle of a much larger and more serious situation complete with the rich, powerful villain who truly believes he is helping the world, but is actually just crazed by the murder of his own family member, is so completely unnecessary and not enjoyable at all. The author tries so hard to keep the action scenes engaging and the plotline interesting, but his efforts are futile.
The only parts I slightly enjoyed were Kat’s/Kit’s and Jacinta’s remarks and comments which I found broke tension and were humorous, though I’m not even sure they were intended to be funny. For example, when Kat comments on Roo’s gold bars in his ship: “You have bars of gold in your ship […] who does that?” (167). However, Kat’s character was revealed to be just as cliché as the rest of the novel when her true identity is uncovered, disappointing me yet again. This novel really did just try way too hard to be interesting, and it ended up being corny and poorly written (unless you’re totally into the predictable spy novel type, in which case you should ignore this whole review and all of my biases).
Overall, I thought Tobias Buckell’s Hurricane Fever was an okay read. The plot wasn’t extremely complex and was a bit predictable, which isn’t always a bad thing, depending on your mood and what you’re looking for in a book. I didn’t mind guessing what happened next, because it propelled me further throughout the book (i.e. helped me finish it faster). Some of the writing was a bit choppy. Sometimes characters would have whole paragraphs of dialogue without being properly introduced, and other times we’re left to infer what’s going on, when a simple line of exposition could’ve helped connect the dots. Another semi-small part of the book that tripped me up were the mechanics of sailing, since I’m not in any way familiar with it, but luckily that wasn’t the focus. And yes, some parts were cheesy and cliche, but most action novels are, so…
The genetic terrorism, and the racial motive to the plague was an interesting twist. It was like Beauchamp’s twisted version of a racial cleansing, though I’m still confused as to how it only targets people of color, or people with even the slightest amount of melanin. Zee died from it, but it’s repeatedly said that he could pass for white? I read Buckell’s acknowledgements where he said he purposefully left that part out so no crazies would get any funny ideas, but I’m still curious as to how something like this would even succeed.
Roo as a main character still feels like a bit of an enigma to me. And I think it’s because he’s missing some interiority. I get that he’s fueled by vengeance for Delroy, but I feel like his pain is never really addressed? He just jumps in headlong and goes on this kill-or-be-killed mission (and makes SUPER big mistakes) all in the name of his nephew. It’s a valiant effort, but the vengeance arc gets tiring after a while, especially since I think adding some of his feelings would’ve made the reader even more sympathetic for him. Buckell does an excellent job describing the physical pain Delroy is in, but I found that the emotional part was severely lacking about Delroy’s death, about the racial angle of the genetic terrorism, and also about the microaggressions he repeatedly faces from (white) people assuming that he’s the help at all those fancy functions.
One thing that really amazed me were Roo’s resources. I know he was in the CIG, but it’s never really discussed how much he was paid for being a part of it (or maybe I missed that part?). He promises Jacinta heavy metal (did he ever come through on that? If not, God help him). And he also promises Elvin (RIP) three years worth of income and shows him all the gold he has, which he says was a gift. I know there was a book before this one, but I’m still wondering where in the world he’s getting all these resources and money from.
Would love to see this as a movie on the SyFy channel.
“Hurricane Fever,” the fast-paced action/thriller written by Tobias Buckell, was certainly an entertaining quick read. The novel focuses on “Roo” bent on revenge, investigation and a nothing to lose mentality. The hurricanes themselves could very well be another character in the book, and cause much chaos to the islands/boats that Roo, and others inhabit. I am perhaps bias in the fact that my favorite novels, are indeed this type. Anything action, suspense and tension driven enthralls me. I enjoyed the setting, (present-day) in this novel, more so than a future that I can hardly envision (ie “The Wind Up Girl”). “Forty Signs of Rain”, having the same (more or less) ‘present day’ pretense, was realistic, and also effortless for me to conceptualize. Combining climate change and a revenge story worked well together for this conspiracy Roo set out to unearth in the novel. As the LA Book Reviewer (Nisi Shawl) says, “Weaponization, genetic targeting – it’s not giving too much away to say that such dangerous concepts are fleshed out easily enough here that readers will readily understand how chillingly close they are to becoming real.” In this type of novel, the reader is able to get easily engaged with the plot, characters and their overall purpose, along with seeing the devastating effects of climate change that envelop the story, even if it’s just to move the story towards its conclusion. I believe Shawl sums it up nicely saying “So this book can be read as a liberating re-visioning of the spy and near future ecothriller genre in addition to as a story falling comfortably within their boundaries.” Shawl goes on to say if “Hurricane Fever” were made into a movie, “that movie would earn even more than the book could…” I feel that is quite true of this type of story, action plays well on screen, even with climate change and ‘ecoterroism’ at the forefront. Would more people pay attention to it? Maybe. I do think this type of novel could be a good segway by bringing some larger issues to the forefront of people’s minds.
Reference: LA Review of Books – Nisi Shawl – The Shock of the New Normal
I really enjoyed this book. Hurricane Fever is actually a fast paced, well written book. It is full of obvious twists and turns, but it costs a different kind of cli-fi than anything else we’ve read so far. This book did not feature cli-fi as the most prominent aspect of the book, and that made it rather excellent. The writing is not as great as perhaps Kim Stanley Robinson’s writing, but it is very well written for its purpose, it is very interesting. I really like the way that the book is actually a spy novel, not a climate awareness book. This makes it significantly more bearable to read. I think this book is a great ending to a long class full of books that were not always the best. This book definitely tied into the rest of the themes of the class by obviously being about the climate, but also just by being interesting and engaging. This is one of the things that this class really focuses on, how engaging is cli-fi literature? The literature needs to be relatable enough that anyone can read it, but that it makes sense as a work of credibility.
The part about this book that I didn’t like was its predictability. There was nothing about this book that I couldn’t see coming, and I actually found it to be ridiculous at some times. I wish the book had been written by a better writer, then perhaps it would have had more hope as a novel. It is disappointing, and impressive at the same time. I wish that it had been more interesting, but it is what it is.
The problem with Tobias Buckell’s Hurricane Fever is that at every little twist and turn, I found myself cynically muttering: “Of course.” Of course the mysterious Kit is never who she says she is. Of course there’s a character named Katrina in a novel about hurricanes. Of course Roo’s nephew, Delroy, dies. (His barely fleshed out character could never have been more than an awkward third-wheel). Of course Roo is an ex-spy with a lust for revenge and nothing left to lose. Of course Beauchamp cannot stop calling Roo “Mr. Jones.” Of course Beauchamp has a maniacal evil plan that would actually be pretty scary if it was not so ridiculously cartoonish. Of course his henchmen are all neo-nazi goons. (Oh wow, mild foreshadowing! They remind me of something like this.) Of course whenever Roo’s luck seems to have just run out, Kit magically appears to save the day. (Hey, at least there’s a feminist angle in there somewhere, right?). Of course every other chapter is a near cliff-hanger. (Spoiler alert: everything is, of course, always fine.)
Okay, okay… I know what you are probably thinking: “Why do you have to be such a hater, Alessandro?” Fair enough. Maybe (definitely) Hurricane Fever is not my cup of tea. Thrills for the sake of thrills do not excite me. I prefer novels that are slower and more pensive, and even when Hurricane Fever’s 100mph narrative winds do manage to suck me in, I still cannot look past the shallowness of it all. I am not asking for realism, and Buckell sure as hell is not providing any, but is it so much to ask more interesting characters?
As far as reading the novel for its cli-fi setting goes, there is not that much new material worth looking at. Yeah, climate change is there. Constant hurricanes are the new normal. Some islands have sunk. True, there is nothing wrong with the anti-drama of it. Buckell may even be on to something by planting these scenarios into the backgrounds of our consciousness, making us more aware without realizing it. With so many guns, and explosions, and cheesy plot twists, however, will anyone really have the attention span to care about the climate change?