Pages: Book Two of the Stanley Cooper Chronicles (Book)
Written by Scott A. Johnson
Published by Library of the Living Dead Press
Pages has two things over the first book in the Stanley Cooper Chronicles, Vermin.
One, it's not an origin story. Origin stories have a handicap in that a good portion of their time has to be spent explaining things in the world they inhabit. Action, plot, development all have to take a backseat to explanations of how characters met, what characters do, etc.
Two, it's a hell of a lot more FUN.
Vermin (review here) is a good book. Pages is an excellent book. Johnson has done a great job developing the universe in which Cooper lives, and in Pages he demonstrates that he means business. Major characters from the first novel perish, alliances are broken, incredible discoveries and expansions occur...it's clear this series is going somewhere, and quick.
At its core Pages is a zombie book, but a very unconventional one. Here, the undead serve a master and a purpose: to retrieve a mythical book we're all familiar with that isn't so mythical in Cooper's world. The scale and stakes are increased from the original novel with the threat to Cooper's circle of friends and the world itself much more immediate.
The single best aspect of Pages is the further development of the title character, Stanley himself. We get to see much more of a Jack Burton edge to Stan, a regular guy suddenly thrust into a world he never would have believed, surrounded by people with powers he can barely comprehend. Through it all his practical nature and everyman reactions to the unbelievable pull the reader into the tale far deeper than a protagonist who is less relatable.
As with all books in a series, the question arises whether you can jump on board with this book or if the series has to be read in order. In this case reading Vermin first will certainly ground you in Stan's universe and introduce you to some of the more complex relationships, but Johnson lays enough pavement here for you to get your footing without reading the debut. There's enough exposition to understand what's going on, even though in some cases you won't feel the gravity of events quite as strongly as those who read the first novel.
I enjoyed Vermin, the first book in the Cooper Chronicles. It was a light, fun read. Pages was a book I couldn't put down. Exciting, funny, warm, and compelling, I definitely want more of Stan Cooper.
4 out of 5
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