Bryan Young’s most recent novel, Operation: Montauk, is a mash-up of dinosaurs, Nazis, and time travel. That’s putting it simply, of course, but if any of those three themes don’t catch your attention…well, what’s wrong with you?
In the vein of the original Star Wars, the story starts out in medias res. Jack Mallory, an American soldier fighting in World War II, is on a mission to travel back in time and kill Hitler before the war can begin. His mission goes awry and he wakes in a tropical jungle, being attacked by monstrous creatures—dinosaurs, he realizes they are. The rest of his team is killed and he escapes, assisted by Richmond, an industrial-age inventor, and Veronica, a technician from Mallory’s future. They bring him to Fort Robinson, the stronghold for several other stranded time travelers. Once there, Mallory and the others speculate why they were dumped millions of years in the past, while Mallory concerns himself with how to get back to his proper time and complete his mission.
Operation: Montauk is a short, fast read, with exciting action sequences and interesting characters. Throughout the novel, you learn more about the inhabitants of Fort Robinson, and one of my only complaints about this story is that I wanted more. I wanted to learn more about them, to learn how they all came to be stranded in prehistoric times. Albert the chimp is an especially fun addition to the cast. Veronica and Valentine were both interesting female characters, and I wanted more of them. I would gladly read a novel headlined by either character. In addition, Richmond was always intriguing, the wise old man of the cast. In contrast, I didn’t find Mallory’s character quite as compelling, but his mission and what he later encounters in the jungle are interesting.
I really enjoyed this novel’s take on time travel. So many times, time travel can get muddied or bogged down in false science, or just not make sense. By keeping the story confined to the dinosaur-laden past, and positing a theory as to why the time travelers have shipwrecked there, Bryan Young deftly sidesteps those potential problems. Smartly, the story doesn’t necessarily concern itself with the hows or whys of time travel, but rather what the characters do to save themselves from impending doom, which is much more interesting.
My other complaint about the novel, besides wanting more about the characters, is the ending. Once again, I want more! But I have a sneaking suspicion that’s exactly what Young intended with his choice of ending…
Overall, Operation: Montauk is a fun read and I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.