It was great until… A review of The Jack, by M.K. Harkins

The Jack (The Immortal Series Book Two)The Jack by M.K. Harkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Jack, by MK Harkins, is book two of The Immortal series.

This review contains spoilers, by necessity. This is also a NetGalley review.

I was apprehensive about reading a second series book without reading the first, but after a few chapters, I picked up that Archer, the lead character, had done many unspeakable things in the prior book, and he betrayed his race of Readers and tried to force Ann, who was destined to be with his best friend Devon, to marry him, killing the race of Seers in the process. Book one sounds like a good story.

The premise of the series, that three major races of immortals coexist with humans, is interesting. The world-build is easy, because it is earth with this addition. The story line is good versus evil, with the third race, the Jacks, providing the evil. While “all” of the Jacks (save Archer) were apparently killed in the first book, clearly there must be some left behind, or the story would be over.

After the initial re-hash of the prior volume, I found the story excellent. I loved the characters of Archer and Sadie, and the interplay as they fell in love. The addition of Ian, a love interest for Sadie, played well into the story-line. The drama of an attempt to murder the entire Reader group, presumably by the new or leftover Jacks, was well written.

While reading, I was generally enjoying the strong writing and well-developed characters, although one could argue that there were too many lead characters to follow, and the constant switching of perspective from Archer to Sadie could be slightly negative at times.

However, at the climax, the story falls apart. The Jacks have already tried to kill the entire “good guy” group, and when the clever plan to split away the strongest from the others works perfectly, instead of simply killing their adversaries, they pull the Saturday morning cartoon move of tying them up. This action is entirely uncharacteristic, and it effectively ruins the book. At that point, you start thinking, why didn’t the Seers see that the guy who went out for sandwiches during the bombing was clearly the spy? How did the Readers not read the minds of the bad guys who were living right with them? And if they gave the cat valium, wouldn’t that make it MUCH EASIER to read it’s mind? Come on! And the killer–Was Sadie really given 10 minutes to use a necklace to unbind her hands, and then find a gun that she had taped under the chair to allow her to shoot all of the bad guys before they even noticed? Sorry, but that just isn’t plausible.

The penultimate twist of giving Sadie anterograde amnesia from PTSD of having to shoot all of the bad guys isn’t necessary, and also strains credulity. However, the final Jack clone hiding in the bushes out front IS a good bit, so at least it ended with something plot-related that works.

I read the e-book, and I assume they will be fixing the doubled period, the “e” standing alone, and the misspelled “Sade” near the end, and I forgive those errors and only mention them for the author in case nobody else has pointed them out. Do a document search for these and fix them for the next rewrite.

However, the big problem here is that the plot relies on an uncharacteristic move by the antagonists. It’s simply not believable and it destroys what is otherwise a very well written book. I strongly suggest rewriting the climax to remain true to the bad guys. This has the makings of a very good book once the giant plot hole is repaired.

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