Review: Busted Flush

Busted Flush is the 19th Wild Card novel, and thus as you might imagine it is not very new reader friendly.  Now I’ve read the entire series up to this point and I still felt lost for the first 100 pages or so, which is probably not a good sign for anyone else coming to this book.

Part of this lack of clarity is due to the nature of the Wild Cards project.  With a few exceptions each book is composed of a series of short stories edited together by George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass.  Sometimes this works very well, and other times not so much.  This book leans towards the later.  The book has nine writers, just as many lead protagonists, four A plots, and a ton of B plots (that largely lay unresolved by novel’s end).  And to make things worse, there’s no real effort to reintroduce any of the characters from prior books.  You have to get through half the book before you can match names to codenames and powers (this is a superhero story after all).

On the other hand this is the rare book that ends better than it begins.  The individual character arcs are pretty strong and they fit together into a whole quite well, and the last third of the book actually starts to recapture some of the feel of the series’ earlier volumes.  And then it stops with a fairly blatant lead in to the next book, which might actually be pretty promising in that it seems likely to resolve a plot that can be traced back to the very first Wild Cards novel.  And that’s enough to keep my interest, although just barely, but I can’t really recommend this to anyone else.

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