Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen

I may not have sped through this book as quickly as Barry Allen speeds through Central City as the Flash, but I can honestly say that I finished this book quicker than most! At 414 pages, I expected The Haunting of Barry Allen to take me closer to 4 or 5 days to finish, particularly during the week when about the only chance I have to read is when I'm eating lunch or working out on the elliptical in the gym at work; however, this book drew me in so quickly and had me so easily feeling like I was watching an episode of the television show that I couldn't put it down.

Authors Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith have written a number of science fiction / fantasy books, as well as some comics and young reader books. This appears to be their first time writing a novel based on a television show, but I give them total props - they managed to capture the character and essence of each and every person, bringing the television personas to life on the page. From Barry Allen to Oliver Queen and all of their supporting cast and sidekicks, the Griffiths brought just as many smiles to my face as I was reading the book as the television shows do when I am watching them!

The first part of a two-part book crossover (the second part of which is in the next Arrow novel), The Haunting of Barry Allen focuses more on the Flash. As the Pied Piper gathers a group of rogues (including Weather Wizard, Mist, Prism, and Peekaboo) with the idea of methodically wearing Central City's defenses down until it is ready for the taking, the Flash finds himself "blurring" out of phase with this reality and seeing not only his future self urging him to run faster, but all the failures from his past - including Gorilla Grodd, Ronnie Raymond, and the Reverse Flash.  As the blurs become more frequent and seem to happen at the very moment when he is about to stop the rogues, Caitlin and Cisco do everything they can to discover the source.  When all else fails, they call in some outside help.

Enter: Green Arrow and gang.

Oliver, Felicity, and John make a trip from Star City to help their friend. As Barry's health slowly declines, Oliver and John work feverishly to protect Central City from the attacks of the rogues, who are working with precision, sweeping in and out, causing the most damage to the city without ever getting caught.  And when the Piper makes the mayor an offer that could save the city but cost them millions - as well as their famed hero! - the Flash and Arrow know that their time is running out.

Dare I say it?  The story is very fast-paced, with the action never stopping; yet, at the same time, just like the TV show, there is plenty of character interaction and development and the right amount of humor to keep it from getting too bogged down with all the action.  The timing of the story is clearly after season one (as it references Reverse Flash being gone, and Iris knows that Barry is the Flash and is helping at Star Labs), but it's not clear whether it takes place after season two or not (although there is a reference to Zoom from season two). Regardless, not knowing exactly where it fit into the TV show continuity does not detract at all from the enjoyment of the story.

I would say this is a definite must-read for any fan of the show - and in case you are wondering, it does end with a mild cliff-hanger, which sets up the second part of this story in Arrow's Generation of Vipers.

RATING:  10 microscopes with slides of fly wings out of 10 for staying true to the television version of these characters and providing a Flash/Arrow fix during the summer break!

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