Review | A Jar of Wasps by Luis Villazon (Anarchy Books)

Title: A Jar of Wasps
Author: Luis Villazon
Publisher: Anarchy Books
Format: E-Book
Release Date: April 2012

Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com

Graham Trevennan has just been dumped by his girlfriend. That's not the problem. He's wanted by the police for a murder he didn't commit. That's not the problem, either. But around the world, dormant volcanoes are suddenly erupting and impossibly complex crystal meteorites are falling out of the sky in a way that probably isn't coincidental.  Now, the CIA, the army and at least one terrifyingly beautiful treasure hunter all seem to think that shooting Graham will somehow help them get hold of these priceless, extraterrestrial crystals. That is a problem.

Graham's mission is to avoid getting killed, figure out whose side he is on and save the world. In the end, he manages two out of three. Which for a beginner, isn't bad.
I picked up A Jar of Wasps from the Kindle store after I got a shiny new Kindle Fire HD for Christmas. It was an impulse buy, mainly because I was stocking up on some e-versions of books I owned paper copies of and it popped up as a recommendation. I thought the cover was rather nice, and the blurb and few reviews I read seemed to be positive. I'm not massively into techno-thrillers, but I like to mix things up every now and then, see what reading outside my normal sub-genres can give me. Sometimes I'm in luck and thoroughly enjoy what I pick up, other times not so much. Unfortunately A Jar of Wasps falls into the latter category...

From the opening scene where Graham receives a delivery, finds himself with unwelcome guests, and then at the end of a murder charge that he didn't commit, it's clear that things aren't going to hang around. But it's also clear that we're going to be left with a fairly standard set of characters and a connect-the-dots plot. It's a shame, especially because the story about strange alien rocks falling to earth at volcano sites has plenty of promise, though even that left me wondering after I'd finished reading. I suppose it's a good sign that I thought about the events within, and the repercussions of said events, but the positives were far outweighed by the negatives.

The story, while interesting, jumped back and forth too much and often (despite the timings and dates stated at the start of chapters) I wondered just what (and when) I was reading. The fact that most of the characters seemed to blur into one didn't help me, and I had to stop once or twice to check whether the point of view had changed without me realising. And to add further to me gripes with A Jar of Wasps, sometimes things were a little too convenient for our characters - like Graham ending up at the right place even though he didn't have a clue where he was going. It's the little things that matter, and it felt like they were glossed over more than once in an effort to get the story going where the author wanted.

Despite these things I really did want to like A Jar of Wasps - I read it quickly and found it well paced and, at times, enjoyable. There truly is potential in this novel, but it's hidden beneath cut-out characters and convenient plot points. A disappointment.

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