In my learned estimation, The Storm is Clive Cussler’s most science-fiction novel since 1986, when he released Dirk Pitt’s 8th novel, Cyclops, and sent Pitt to a gunfight on the moon. And while I love adventure and unique plots, I generally hope that those plots have at least a modicum of reasonableness or believability. Sadly I didn’t find such in The Storm, book number ten in The NUMA Files.
Overall, The Storm involved a silly plot with laughable foils in which an Arab nomad manipulates the world’s weather patterns by releasing a horde of micro-bots smaller than grains of sand into the world’s oceans. Add to this a transportable island city owned by a billionaire and managed by a community of task-specific robots, and you’re ready for a ridiculous story that is leagues away from general Cussler fare, set in a world that simply doesn’t and couldn’t exist. For extra spice, throw in the “cargo cult,” a group of soldiers isolated on an Indian Ocean isle for almost 70 years, still under the impression that WWII barrels on, despite the fact that they appear to have the technology to communicate yet simply haven’t.
I have lately enjoyed listening to Cussler’s novels on audio, read by Scott Brick, while I wash the dishes or take a shower or drive across town. Yet for this book, unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find a copy. Whether that’s because my searches were weak or because this book was just not worth recording, I’m not sure, but I am confident that Scott Brick could have made this story minutely more enjoyable by interpreting it in his own adult way. As it reads in my own head, though, it’s a childlike story and highly disappointing.
As a case-in-point to its childishness, take this little exchange ostensibly between a world-wise Kurt Austin and two highly educated scientists:
“When the moment of victory appears, it must be seized,” [Kurt said.] They stared at him.
“Sun Tzu,” Leilani told them as if she were an old hand.
“So what does that mean in English?” Gamay asked.
Really? “When the moment of victory appears, it must be seized” is an unclear, jargon-filled statement too hard for PhDs to understand? While I’m not going to give up on Cussler until I finish all his books, I’ll have a hard time plowing through his later, co-authored books. I’d definitely be much happier to stick with straight “by Clive Cussler”s than “by Clive Cussler with”s.
The most exciting moments for this book revolved around Joe Zavala, Kurt’s sidekick, and his escapades inside Egypt. At the very least, the dangers he faced were real-world-ish, and the rescue made sense. That’s more than I can say for virtually every other scene in the book, so at least there’s that one saving grace. Don’t waste your time on this one, unless you’re dreadfully, painfully bored or unless, like me, you’d like to have read them all.