Review: Trail of the Chupacabra by Stephen Randel


THE REASON I READ THIS BOOK WAS BECAUSE... I absolutely adored The Chupacabra, the first book in the series, and I always said that if another book was written, I would read the next one as soon as possible. I love these characters and I just could not wait to see what happened next. This is why I chose to be apart of the blog tour, even though this blog is technically still on hiatus. I just had to make an exception!

I WOULD DESCRIBE THE OVERALL PLOT AS... a delightful, dark comedy-adventure told from multiple points of view and full of snappy, quotable dialogue. What starts as an "innocent" monster meeting ultimately leads the characters on a crazy adventure south of the Mexican-American border battling the cartels and the unforgiving desert. There was a pretty big plot twist in the middle that took me by surprise and I commend Randel for getting me on that one. The ending was earned and opens up the series for even more adventures [someone get these characters on television please!]

THE WORLD-BUILDING/SETTING WAS... incredibly well-developed. Although this story is set in the "real world" along the Mexican-American border, Randel does a superb job at giving the Mexican desert that otherworldly feeling where perhaps finding the legendary chupacabra is indeed possible. There is so much tension and danger, that anything can happen to anyone.

I FOUND THE CHARACTERS TO BE... classic archetypes with a modern twist, each with their own "unique" voice.  A first glance, a majority of the characters tend to selfish and harsh caring only about their personal agendas. However, Randel always writes his characters as having depth and whimsy as opposed to being shallow and silly. They may do bad things, but their motivations are always interesting and deeply personal; for it is in their relationships with other characters that make them seem the most human. For example, Avery is an incredibly hard character to love, but he is an interesting character to follow. He's still that [un]lovable, paranoid, self-centered freak from the first novel, but manages to display a tiny dose of humanity for his best friend Ziggy (someone he does not treat well at all for most of the book). Another example is El Barquero ("The Ferryman") aka the Mexican Jack Bauer and his nearly mythic reputation. He may commit horrible acts of revenge (killing and blowing stuff up), but he shows vulnerability with his friend Cesar and in his thoughts of his deceased family. General X-Ray of militia STRAC-BOM wants to be an important leader so much (and avoid feeling like a failure), that he invented an enemy for his men to to fight. Even series villain El Padre shows a softer side with his "son", The Butcher. The characters' motivations are what grounds them in this "hyper-reality".

THIS BOOK IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE... it showcases the very real violence along the Mexican-American border. Like in first book, the legendary chupacabra is a metaphor for this violence. While the beast is out for the blood of goats, much human blood is spilled in the on-going war with the cartels to stop their trafficking of drugs and weapons. The fictional militia STRAC-BOM may be hilariously inept, but real militias do exist and take matters into their own hands, posing even more problems for border agencies. Also, immigration policy is a hot-button issue, especially today and particularly concerning Mexican immigrants and their path to possible citizenship in the USA.

OVERALL, THE TRAIL OF THE CHUPACABRA IS... an exceptionally, well-written sequel that is just as entertaining as The Chupacabra. It is a great summer read. I cannot wait to see what adventures are next.

QUOTE: "You're a very strange man." "Thank you. Genius is almost always misdiagnosed." 

Rating: 4/5

Trail of the Chupacabra: An Avery Bartholomew Pendleton Misadventure

by Stephen Randel [Stephen Randel, CFA, was born in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University. Steve now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and their two rescue dogs].

Summary: Avery Bartholomew Pendleton is back, and he’s just as crazy as ever. Avery is a paranoid loner obsessed with global conspiracy theories who spends most of his time crafting absurd and threatening letters to anyone who offends him. That means pretty much everyone. Still convinced of the existence of the mythical Mexican chupacabra*, Avery enlists the assistance of the Southwest Texas Revolutionary Armed Confederate Border Operations Militia (STRAC-BOM) and their manic leader, General X-Ray, to help him invade Mexico. Accompanied by Ziggy, a burned-out hippy, and an uncommonly large iguana named Nancy, the group follows the advice of a New Orleans voodoo priestess and heads straight into the Mexican desert. Unfortunately for the motley gang of explorers, Mexico can be a dangerous place if you cross the wrong people -- specifically, the Padre, a vicious drug cartel boss, and El Barquero, a murderous gunrunner who has crossed Avery’s path before. What unfolds is a laugh-out-loud dark comedy of insane humor, unforgettable characters, and chilling thrills.

*No chupacabras were injured in the writing of this book.

Pages: 348        
Buy The Book @ Amazon 

Part of Sage's Blog Tour


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Once upon a time, there were two sisters -Susan and Shauna - who were moved and mesmerized by stories through any medium, since they were teeny tiny. This passion stayed with them throughout adulthood, and after becoming even more enthralled with Young Adult fiction in recent times (and some Adult & MG!) they decided they just had to open up their own book blog and share their enthusiasm with the world, or well, to anyone who would listen.

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