Maxwell doesn't waste a single word in getting the action going, and Augustus's laconic narration underscores his cool comfort with violence, telling one opponent: "you’ll spend the last seconds of your life in two pieces watching the bottom half of your body twitch like hell while your mind asks what the fuck does it all mean." An especially effective fight scene involves an attack with heavily armed mini-drones that kill with frightening efficiency. At times the plot turns can strain credulity—the teams’ skills seem to border on the supernatural—but the action scenes are absorbing enough to glide over them.
Although the focus is on the action, the author does relieve the intensity with some more human moments. Augustus often reflects on his late wife, and tender scenes with his children flesh out his character. His team members also have their engaging moments in between fights, as when Augustus meets the unexpectedly lovely girlfriend of a reclusive ex-Green Beret. Indeed, Maxwell makes female characters full partners in the battles. The fast-paced plot and handsomely staged fight scenes guarantee readers will be rooting for the heroes until the last page.
Takeaway: Fans of red-blooded thrillers will exalt in the energetic plot and the delightfully imaginative techniques the heroes use to dispatch their appallingly evil opponents.
Great for fans of: Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-
Yes, It Happened is set in the near future, providing a scenario that grabs attention and proves almost impossible to set aside: "A blazing flash lit up my home office followed instantly by a distant, wall-shaking explosion. “Holy shit!” I leaped from my chair and hurried to the window. Everything on the street seemed normal, until my eyes lifted to the horizon. A huge mushroom cloud rose over Washington DC. “Oh, my God.” I mumbled in disbelief." The protagonist can't stop to agonize over his wife, who was in Washington when the nuclear bomb hit. He's now charged with finding his kids and surviving its aftermath.
Robert Maxwell creates an engrossing scenario in just a few paragraphs, drawing readers immediately into Augustus's life, choices, and how his priorities change in a second.
There's a feeling of surprise in more than an attack on Washington, however, as further notes indicate that perhaps Augustus doesn't hold his government in the greatest regard, even though democracy has been attacked: "I know the instructions. Big Brother is alive and well in our President."
Unlike most other stories of terrorism, Augustus is willing to immediately entertain the notion that the perps may not have come from overseas, but on America's home turf: "What did the President mean – this might be an internal terrorist attack? And why did he source Russian intelligence. Why not ours?"
As he navigates a vastly changed world with children and challenged ideals in tow, the immediacy and reality of events come to life under Maxwell's pen. There is much confusion, and many possibilities as various forces question the attack, the attacker, and the many possible truths about the enemy and his purposes.
As a deadly truth emerges about not just the perps, but their takeover intentions, Augustus finds himself on the run from not just radiation and war, but his own ideals and government.
The people must act. But aren't their actions just a part of the jigsaw puzzle of the war over democratic processes and a strange, elusive enemy whose lies, and promises are impossible to believe?
One reason why Maxwell's story is so frightfully compelling lies in its roots in present-day adversity, gaslighting, and confusion. Augustus reflects this process as he makes decisions and confronts a strange new America. Readers following in his footsteps receive a heartfelt, moving story that moves into international intrigue and gripping scenarios, from caving and confrontation to the lasting impact of the fake news that swirls all around them.
With its heart-stopping scenarios, nonstop action, and foundations in modern-day events, Yes, It Happened is one of the most moving, absorbing political thrillers to appear in 2020, and offers an intense parable of possibilities for our times.
A new beginning leaves the door ajar for possibly more, but satisfyingly concludes a thoroughly riveting story that can't be put down.