Full review at Bookgasm
After a couple of stage-setting, top-secret memos about operations to recover — which become operations to destroy — a mysterious SPEKTR vehicle in a desolate stretch of Iraq, we turn to page one and Adam Baker’s JUGGERNAUT roars out of the gate:The locomotive roared headlong through a rippling, caramel sandscape. A dust-streaked behemoth jetting black diesel fumes. A plow welded to the forward buffer bar scoured the dune-choke rails in a series of sandbursts, like a speedboat smacking through chop.
Baker nailed me to the chair with that slam-bang opening. The staccato prose calculated to seem breathless, too rushed even for complete sentences — but also a particular care for the image that is more than simply a placeholder for the film adaptation.
At its best — and the novel often revs its engines for maximum performance — JUGGERNAUT rockets from one action set piece to the next with a breathless energy, while wit and craft inflect every stray, writerly detail: a popcorn entertainment made with a poet’s eye.
I don’t want to overstate: With (deserved) pride, the book can be summed up in simple pitches like “THE WALKING DEAD meets THREE KINGS,” or “Call it TREASURE OF THE LIVING DEAD IN THE SIERRA MADRE.”
A ragtag team of mercenaries, seeking one final big score before retirement, heads off to a desolate “contamination zone” where a rumored vault full of bullion sits untouched. Their smash-and-grab is smashed and scrubbed by a series of (entirely predictable) discoveries: a “treasure” other than the gold promised; duplicity in the ranks, sparking violent competition for the reward; and an unexpected set of obstacles comprised largely of leathery, undead corpses.
The backstory for the zombies has a few, off-kilter spins, and Baker also manages with deft assurance to make his archetypes less typical. As in his prose, there’s an economy to his characterizations — even if, at times, you wish for a few more complete sentences....