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Facilely, a competent or solidly good novel is defined purely by whether or not it accomplished the feat of grabbing the reader’s attention almost immediately, making them flip the pages while in the thralls of a deep spell not easily broken by the distracting or cacophonous of the noises around you. On that level,Gillian Anderson’s first undertaking as a writer, with the assistance of seasoned thriller and sci-fi writer Jeff Ravin, succeeds because I had a lot of trouble putting this book down. It had very clean prose, fascinating/varied characters (well-developed for the most part), and it also contained some thought-provoking ideas, which were seasoned with a bit of generic elements (I’ll get to that much later in the review).
But for the most part, it is a book that is almost impossible to put down, but once it’s put down, you have no lingering thoughts beyond pure enjoyment of the entertainment that this book provides in heady doses. I am perfectly fine with A Vision of Fire serving the role of being a light read, with some well-incorporated sci-fi elements, along with an almost instantaneously interesting, kick-ass, assertive female protagonist, Caitlin, a child psychiatrist who had an uncanny resemblance both Gillian Anderson’s shrewd character from Netflix’s The Fall (highly recommended),and the scrupulous skeptical mind and personality of Scully from X-Files (one of my all-time favorite shows).
At times,Caitlin, though, does feel just a bit hackneyed at times, and her running inane jokes, provide somewhat aimless comic relief between her and the love-interest (though very smart, resource linguist) Ben. I say “somewhat,” because I sorta liked their jokey conversations, which provided nice comic relief and fun couple bantering, in between moments of very intense drama and suspense theatricals. But yet, it did become stale and even stilted at times, though their relationship is very subtle, and never overwhelms the plot. That is a plus, including the fact that Caitlin is much more strong-minded, in that she actually understands that saving the lives of her patients, teetering on a psychological precipice of sorts, does take obvious precedence over love interests. So, I was ultimately very satisfied with her development as a character, and it shows that Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin have a sharp, intuitive grasp of realistic goals and ambitions for their characters, given the high stress situation they’re both entrenched in for a good portion of the book.
So, I was very happy to find that the main characters and the pacing of the book were actually very good, considering that books written by actresses or actors are stereotypically perceived as being cash-ins. I was really skeptical of this book, but I pretty much really enjoyed it. But returning to my promised point about the generic plot elements, the main supernatural core or concept behind the mechanics of this story is slightly silly and a bit campy, which pays slight homage to great X-File storylines. In that case, is it really fair to even pin that one down as a criticism?
In the end, your enjoyment on this book will be based entirely on your preferences or what you are presently in the mood for. This is a straight-up thriller, with campy supernatural elements, which I found to be an insanely fun, entertaining read for the course of 290 pages. Sometimes, we need books that are geared mostly for giving us a nice indulgent dose of pure, exhilarating entertainment, and I think Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin do deliver that effectively with A Vision of Fire. By the end, I would definitely say that I look forward to reading more in the series, and maybe, the next books will improve on some of the hackneyed character development, and a few of the slightly silly, campy science fiction elements. As a huge X-Files fan, A Vision of Fire is definitely comparable to a really good X-Files, with just enough tense, thrilling scenes to leave you both mentally and physically incapable of closing the book in the end. If you’re looking for just the type of book to offer you a nice escape from reality with a fun, cinematic plot, you should definitely check this newest novel, from this new established thriller writing team-Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin.