On an earlier post, I previously compared Phase Four by Gary Carson to being the tasty bi-product of TV series Jericho and World Famous Batman Begins movie, if they were mashed together inside a butter churn. I’m still sticking with this superb analogy. Government conspiracy, political intrigue, action, thrills, and psychedelic horror – this book has a little tantalizing piece of everything.
When a supposed military convoy carrying nerve gas is hijacked, things couldn’t possibly get any worse for national security, right? Unfortunately the cargo isn’t really nerve gas, it’s something much more sinister and deadly. Homeland Security agent Matthew Drake is instantly recalled from vacation and set on surveillance over a suspected terrorist target. Drake’s operation immediately goes AWOL, and everything within the book from then on gets royally screwed. The supposed nerve “…gas is released inside a luxury high-rise hotel in an apparent attempt to assassinate the President.” All there is to say, is that everything isn’t quite as it seems. The gas turns out to have mind shattering properties, turning all infected into a mindless, zombie-like, shambling mob of screaming and babbling insanity.
The vivid descriptions of those infected and what they are seeing is… well… freaking awesome. Giant lizards, a huge piercing eye, skittering insects, and a multitude of other hallucinations are only the beginning. It starts to get scary when you find out there are “Four Phases” to this infection and it might just be irreversible after the fourth phase.
The initial influx at the beginning with introducing so many characters was a tad hard to follow. This being stated, they get weeded out quickly. The main characters, Matthew Drake and Gena Hahn, bind together to create an unrelenting force of just pure stubborn determination. They won’t give up even when they’ve run completely out of any chance of survival.
Honestly, I was unsure how well I would be able to get into this book. It had a great storyline but other than that it isn’t the typical “Military Sci-Fi or Fantasy” novel I’m addicted to. Within the first few pages, I was seriously hooked and yelled at repeatedly for not setting it down and pay attention to the real world quickly revolving around me. Obviously I need to start branching outside my cozy comfort zone more.
Carson’s Phase Four delivers the reader an altered version of the United States in such realistic imagery and ideals that it isn’t all that difficult to envision them coming to fruition in the modern day. A fast-paced, up-beat novel with a fantastic ending, Phase Four isn’t one you should miss out on. I’d give this astounding novel 7.5 Liams out of 10.
Much Thanks to Al Guthrie for providing me with this review copy of Phase Four.