"Scavenger" a Reality Show Gone Awry

Post date: Aug 5, 2014 3:51:00 PM

Scavenger is David Morrell's sequel to his highly acclaimed 2005 thriller Creepers. The protagonist of that earlier novel, Frank Balenger, and his girlfriend, Amanda, are forced to participate in a life-or-death search for a century-old time capsule. They soon learn their search is little more than a test run for a television game show created by a psychopathic video game designer who calls himself the Game Master.Morrell is one of my favorite thriller authors, and I've never read a book of his I didn't enjoy. However, I wasn't as enthralled by this novel as I was by its predecessor. That is probably entirely a subjective response, however. Creepers was centered on an activity that greatly interests me—urban exploration, which involves exploring historic abandoned buildings.

Scavenger, on the other hand, is centered around video games (never play them) and the sport of geo-caching, in which participants compete by following Global Positioning Satellite coordinates to specific locations. Due to my many years of experience in maritime and wilderness search and rescue operations, I am trained in coastal, land, and air navigation. After using those skills to search for dozens, perhaps hundreds, of lost or injured people, geo-caching just doesn't sound like fun to me.

Morrell, however, fills Scavenger with a myriad of action scenes interspersed with the findings of his usual detailed research. The author does an outstanding job of characterization of the mentally-scarred Game Master. And Morrell's message in the novel – that the Game Master's life-or-death scavenger hunt is the logical extension of idiotically dangerous reality TV shows like "Survivor" and "Naked and Afraid" – is, unfortunately, dead on the mark.