The New York State Library. A brooding labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow aisles and spiralling staircases. For Doctor Stephen Swain and his daughter, Holly, it is the site of a nightmare. For one night, this historic building is to be the venue for a contest. A contest in which Swain is to compete – whether he likes it or not.
The rules are simple. Seven contestants will enter. Only one will leave. With his daughter in his arms, Swain is plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. He can choose to run, to hide or to fight – but if he wants to live, he has to win. For in this contest, unless you leave as the victor, you do not leave at all. (Goodreads)
I’ve been a fan of Matthew Reilly for years. I love the high-speed action in his books and the heroes that we follow. I have no idea why this one (which was his first) has never crossed by reading list. I thought it was about time to get down and read it.
Wow. Given that it was his first book (which he released independently before scoring a publisher), it provides a glimpse of where he started. It’s full of the action he’s famous for, the creatures that give another level of terror to the hero, and the exciting climaxes he does so well. His action has definitely influenced my books, which I tend to think of as Matthew Reilly for kids.
In Contest, an unassuming doctor is suddenly whisked away from his normal life into the New York Library (along with his young daughter), and finds himself smack bang in the middle of a deadly contest. A once in a millennium event that is orchestrated by beings from the far reaches of space. There are seven competitors, each from different planets, who must fight to be the sole survivor. The contestants not only have to deal with their competitors, they have some nasty beasts thrown in the mix, as well as an electrified building.
As with all of MR’s books, the hero finds a way out of situations that seem absolutely impossible. Even though it’s often implausible, it’s what I love about MR’s books. I can suspend my belief and just go along for a ride that tackles the extremes of survival. Of course, there is plenty of violence, so it’s not really suited to younger readers, but the fact that it’s aimed mostly at mythical space beasts makes it a little easier to digest.
Another great white-knuckle-action-packed-adventure from MR. Let’s hope that he releases some more action novels in the future. I seem to have exhausted his supply of action books now. Maybe a re-read of some of them is in order 🙂
Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.