Book Review: Cowboys and Dinosaurs Collide in ‘Rex Riders’ by J.P. Carlson
REX RIDERS takes a childhood fascination with dinosaurs and delivers a hard-nosed, rip-roaring Western adventure through the dusty plains of Texas and beyond.
With exception to a single Louis L’Amour book that my mom bought me, of which I can’t even remember the title, I never really was into cowboys when I was little. My dad on the other hand was big into Westerns and war films, whereas I was more drawn into the world of sci-fi and horror, and I would often be stuck watching yet another John Wayne film in which his “Duke-ness” does his thing. All the while my mind would be racing on ways to make the movie more interesting by adding in an unexpected element like Frankenstein’s monster, vampires, space aliens or… dinosaurs.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only boy daydreaming about such “outlandish fantasies.” In his debut book, REX RIDERS, (which I mentioned earlier last week) author J.P. Carlson has managed to rope not one, but two of these childhood wishes into a pulpy, Western adventure novel that finds a young boy named Zeke Calhoun using his wits to fight evil ranch hands, discover an alien, and learn to ride a bonafide Tyrannosaurus Rex!
Joining Zeke are his Uncle Jesse, a mule-headed by kindhearted cowboy; Bull, Uncle Jesse’s right hand strongman; Stumpy, the wise old cook; and Angelina, Zeke’s newfound friend. There’s also the greedy entrepreneur Dante D’Allesandro and his vicious enforcer, Cable Cooper, who always seems to bring out the worst in a situation. Toss in a few hundred stampeding Triceratops, a pack of hungry T-Rex and an alien civilization on the brink of war and you get the picture of just how EPIC this book really is.
In spite of how large the scope of the story is, REX RIDERS is a surprisingly easy read – one that’s perfect for any strange kid whether they’re 12 or 12 going on 30. The chapters are long, but there’s plenty of breaks inbetween not to mention a series of black and white illustrations by comic veteran Jim Calafiore scattered throughout. In fact, between paleo-illustrator Fabio Pastori’s awesome cover and Calafiore’s micro-detailed work I almost wish the book was a graphic novel, but Carlson’s writing adds so much depth that all you need is the right amount of imagination.
If you’ve got a strange kid who loves tales about dinosaurs, giant monsters or cowboys – even if that strange kid is you – I’d definitely recommend picking this one up. Thinking about a Christmas gift? Copies on Amazon.com are already 25% – that’s only $13 bucks for such a kick-ass book!