Book Review: "Olympus Rises" by Jim Roberts

G.I. Joe Meets Die Hard

This is a nice little thriller, adventure novel that would make a perfect vehicle for somebody like Jean Claude Van Damme or Sylvester Stallone. Actually, it’s much better than the usual stuff that those two drudge up for film material. The plot follows Sergeant Joe Braddock as he guides his military platoon into an ambush and through the clutches of a mysterious enemy organization. Through it all, Roberts uses no-nonsense, direct prose that is effective and fast moving. This would be a great book for an airplane ride since it keeps you entertained, but it isn’t so deep that ambient noise breaks the spell (it’s a bit like “The DaVinci Code” in that respect).

Based on the cover, I thought this was going to be another reality based, Tom Clancy type novel on modern warfare. For the first couple chapters we get to know Joe Braddock and his men as they go on a routine patrol through Afghanistan. I thought Roberts’s descriptions of modern military were convincing (although I’m far from an expert on such things having never served myself).

After an ambush, Braddock’s platoon is captured by a mysterious force that is something like G.I. Joe’s Cobra. This is where the book started taking off for me since I was expecting it to maintain a certain realism and the elevated action scenes were a pleasant surprise. Braddock is held in a cell, and he quickly becomes focused on escaping and saving his men. The prison escape scenes are effective and entertaining, and Braddock even manages to recruit some interesting help from the other prisoners.

From there, the action continues to elevate as one of Braddock’s men comes into possession of a prototype body-armor that transforms him into a cross between Snake-Eyes and Iron Man. This book never loses its humanity, however, and honestly the screen writers for the G.I.-Joe films would have been better served to follow this story than the boring “whole world at stake” cliché films they eventually released. Perhaps the best way to explain Olympus Rises is to say that it’s G.I. Joe mixed with Die Hard.

Overall I found this to be a smart, effectively written action thriller that keeps you entertained and watching more. It’s a great summer read and I’m looking forward to some more writing from this author.

Get your copy of "Olympus Rises" here.

Reviewer Bio:
Walter Rhein is the author of "The Reader of Acheron," "Beyond Birkie Fever," and "The Bone Sword."  He is also the editor of "Nine Heroes."

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