Book Log

Book Log #99: Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead, by Steve Perry

I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan. To the tune of Raiders of the Lost Ark remaining my all-time favorite movie ever, and collecting every one of the novels I could get my hands on. I even went to go see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull twice.

So this should give you the proper context when I say that I really, really wanted to like Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead. It combines two of my favorite things: Indy and zombies! Plus, it’s a story that’s set during World War II and which included Mac, the character we saw in Crystal Skull. So, cool, I thought, we can get a glimpse into what actually happened to Indy during World War II, which was one of the interesting little side details about the movie.

The big problem is, the character occupying the lead role of this story is not the Indiana Jones I know and love. He’s too prone to bursting into dry, didactic lectures, a habit we never once saw him have in any of the movies, including the last one. This character failure alone distracted me a lot from the story, and made it difficult for me to enjoy some of the other aspects of this version of Indy that I did like–for example, since this is an Indy up in his 40’s, it did seem reasonable to me that he was starting to get sensitive about his age and yet was still quite capable of being charmed by, and charming to, the young female lead.

A similar lack of character development pretty much plagued the bad guys as well, for the most part: the German and Japanese commanders. Since this is a WWII setting, it’s pretty much inevitable that we’d have Japanese forces involved along with the Nazis, and to be fair, this does add a bit of nice variety. And there’s quite a bit of plotting and counter-plotting between the two commanders as they both try to catch up with Indy and Mac to get the final MacGuffin. But none of it had quite the punch it should have had for me, and only occasionally did either of the commanders ever seem like real characters. They definitely paled in comparison to the actual primary bad guy: the voodoo sorcerer who was controlling the zombies.

And I will say that okay, sure, the zombie part of the plot was entertaining enough. But on the whole the story didn’t feel enough like a proper Indiana Jones story to me–because Indy just didn’t feel enough like Indy. Two stars.

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