Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel
Jared Cartwright grew up in a loving, caring community, completely isolated from the horrors of the outside world. When tragedy leaves him alone and untethered, Jared sets out to explore the unknown; a world where twisted, scarred creatures roam an earth ravaged by nuclear war while the rich fled to the skies on floating utopias, escaping destruction and leaving the rest of humanity to die.
To face his new reality, Jared must learn to survive in a cold, harsh world. A twist of fate changes Jared’s destiny when he discovers dragons are real. The dragon unlocks a hidden technology within his body, giving him powers he never imagined existed.
With deadly adversaries above and below, he must evolve beyond mere human limitations to defeat the powerful rulers of the cities and the rabid beasts lurking in the shadows.
Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars
Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel
In a post-apocalyptic world, humanity has been reduced to living in isolated colonies that are on the verge of destruction due to disease and nuclear fallout. This is the backdrop for a dystopian story that at its essence seems more of a “boy and his dragon on steroids” than any sweeping scope or cautionary tale of thoughtless experimentation and a futuristic destruction of New York. Or is it a coming of age tale about Jared, a displaced colonist who wanders into a dragon’s lair one day and comes out the product of science gone wrong combined with ancient mysticism?
At every page turn, I kept wondering when the “real” story was going to start as I was introduced to a host of fantasy science jargon about nanites absorbed with the killing of every fantastic beast they encountered — and there were lots of them! Enough to keep a gamer happily shooting lasers and scoring points to earn all sorts of extra “powers”, were this an actual video game and not a novel. Whatever the theme or motivation behind the writing, there was a worthy idea behind the story as well as some memorable, well-thought characters and world building. Those parts are fine for those interested in it, but without a real story to carry it across, I found them easy to skim and get on to the next inevitable action scene.
The real problem for me was the “teen speak” every single character affects at every turn with no diversity among tone in each characterization, not even for a dragon, privy to thousands of years of wisdom and lore. Instead, she comes off sounding more, snarky prom queen than Yoda. And she goes by the handle, Scarlett, ‘cause… ya know…. Dragon names are just too lame for mere humans to try and wrap their chops around. And what boy doesn’t dream of having a dragon? Right? No matter that she stole the name off the dead explorer her Mommy killed. And just like in Highlander, “There can be only one” as combats rage and the victor wins all the nanite spoils, increasing knowledge and power. Hence, Jared and Scarlett continue to battle fantastic beasts including a ginormous earthworm, vengeful sea dragons with PTSD and never knowing which humanoid friends they can trust, be they colonist refugees or mutant sea people.
After a while, I sort of stopped looking for any real story at all and I just enjoyed the ride. Once I stopped looking for any real theme or plot, I did enjoy this story and found myself looking forward to returning to it. Perhaps I absorbed a few of those nanites, because Jared and his beloved pet dragon, or rather Scarlett and her beloved pet human, either way, they were quite the loveable pair, indicating this new author must have done something right and understands his characters and the nuances of bringing them to life on the page. So, while this story was part Highlander, part Mad Max, and part “creature feature” with Weird Science and a loveable dose of Pete’s Dragon, it combined to be just the sort of entertaining diversion I would imagine anyone who’s ever partaken of those other classics would enjoy as well. I just wish it had a more reflective thematic title for a story about the intimate journey of two bonded characters in difficult times. Radioactive Evolution implies something far bigger and epic in scope than what was delivered and it seems a better choice could have been made to prepare readers for the road ahead.
Terence Vickers’ Review: 4.999-Stars
I would love to be able to give this book a full five-star rating but unfortunately, there are a few typos and other editing errors. Those who follow my reviews will know that a five-star rating means absolute perfection.
Other than that, I love it. It easily ranks up there with some of the best science fiction and fantasy I have ever read, and in over fifty years I have read a lot
The science is believable in that yes it could someday happen in much the same way as Dick Tracys’ wrist radio has been replaced with cell phones you can wear on your wrist. Nanomites or Nano-bots, I have seen in other works and have also seen in articles about new developments in medical science. These are things that are already being researched.
The plot flows so effortlessly that a reader may forget there are other things to do in life before they finish the book. A seemingly endless list of surprises and plot twists will keep the reader so involved they may forget mundane things like eating and sleeping. The characters are full of life, realistic, and easy to relate to.
Radioactive Evolution is definitely going on my read again list and I will give it my highest recommendation for lovers of science fiction and fantasy, who I am sure will enjoy it as much as I have.
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