I am a fan of the Guardian Interviews series by Michael Clary. I reviewed the first book, The Guardian, here with a positive appraisal but awareness the book had some rough edges. Many of these have been smoothed off by the sequel and the result is an overall improved narrative.
The Regulators follows the titular team returning to El Paso after having successfully escaped its miniature zombie apocalypse last book. Having joined the government as a supernaturally-empowered team of badasses, they are hoping to rescue any and all remaining survivors in the city.
This proves to be a more daunting prospect than expected as the city turns out to have been invested by a new breed of monster in the meantime. Can the Regulators deal with a smarter, stronger, and more dangerous breed of undead?
Of course they can.
The Guardian Interviews' biggest appeal is its interview format. Like World War Z, everything is told after-the-fact by the survivors. This means there's some lost tension due to knowing who will live and who will die but this is made up for by giving each event a unique perspective.
My favorites this book were the "Chainsaw Priest" and Snake Charmer. The Chainsaw Priest is rather self-explanatory, being a Catholic Priest who uses one against zombies, but it's the latter who really intrigued me. Snake Charmer is the codename of a black ops military officer and consummate professional who is forced to work with the Regulators despite their frat boy antics.
His opinion is not kind.
Part of what I disliked about the previous book was the worship of its protagonist Jaxon. I liked the character but everyone bent over backwards trying to make sure we knew he was a hero. This book illustrates more of Jaxon's flaws. He's not only proud of his abilities but stupid about them.
The fact Jaxon's done no training with them nor sought out any training gets lampshaded by the text and we also see how ineffective that makes him. He could do a lot more damage if he bothered to learn how to use a gun properly for example. We also find out Jaxon's a horrible judge of character who misses the feelings of his group constantly.
Why? Jaxon never bothers to ask what they think, he just assumes they'll go along with him.
Sadly, Jaxon doesn't seem to learn any lessons from his failures and that's his most damning character flaw of all. I like Michael Clary taking the time to show just how outmatched he is against the majority of threats out there. He barely survives dealing with monsters just one-step above zombies and is probably going to get his clock cleaned by the next creature. I think this would be a good thing as our hero does need to be humbled.
The action in the book is good and so is the humor. The use of vampires as black-drooled creatures which are terrifying as well as vicious was welcome. There's nothing romantic about The Guardian Interviews vampires and this is how it should be in a monster-hunter series. I am eager to get into the third book.
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