Book Review – COMBUSTION by Steve Worland

Combustion by Steve WorlandCombustion Synopsis 

Los Angeles. Traffic clogs the streets. Smog chokes the city. And Zac Bunsen is going to burn it all down. On a ruthless quest to save the planet, Bunsen releases the Swarm, an airborne nanotech virus that targets combustion engines and detonates their fuel supply. It is spectacularly, appallingly successful. Terror and chaos reign as the City of Angels explodes. Every vehicle is now a deadly bomb and every freeway a war zone littered with bodies and twisted wrecks.

NASA astronaut Judd Bell and his best mate, Aussie chopper pilot Corey Purchase, must navigate the burning city in a desperate mission to stop Bunsen before he can execute the last phase of his horrific plan and send mankind back to the Stone Age. (Audible)


Need a break from the mental gymnastics required of you by those literary titles on your reading pile? In the mood for a bit of escapist action-adventure where the good guys prevail over unbelievable odds? If so, I have a book (or more precisely, a series) for you.

Around this time last year I took a chance on the debut novel Velocity from Aussie author Steve Worland, touted as the next Matthew Reilly. The verdict — I enjoyed it immensely (read my review). After the cliff-hanger ending of Velocity, I was eager to see what Worland had in store for his endearing trio, Judd Bell, Corey Purchase and his canine sidekick Spike, in the sequel Combustion.

In Combustion Worland introduces the heroic trio to the Californian movie scene, where they inevitably cross paths with some exciting new bad guys and the concept of eco-terrorism, and they find themselves fighting a battle with global stakes (again). There is also a very sweet side plot involving down-to-earth Corey and his search for love in a city populated with action movie heroes.

Despite this story firmly sitting in the escapist fiction genre, Worland’s attention to detail in crafting a plausible story framework and well-realised characters within that envelope is what makes this novel a success. He calls on the easily identifiable goody and baddy stereotypes but then enhances them with interesting personas, their own loyalties and strong underlying motivations. Worland’s baddies are not dunderheads – their intelligence and passion are qualities that would be admired had they been directed towards less violent intentions.

Once again, Sean Mangan’s voice-over style delivery in the audiobook narration adds to the blockbuster movie feel of this novel (listen to an audio sample).

I was pleased to find that my favourite character from Velocity, the loyal Aussie dare-devil that doesn’t take himself too seriously, Corey Purchase plays the leading role (by a nose) in this outing. The culture clash he and Spike experience in Tinseltown makes for some very amusing moments, as does his sarcastic banter with now best mate Judd. Another key to the success of this series is the inclusion of strong and determined female characters. Oh, and if something can be blown up, Worland is not afraid to make that happen… “BOOM!”.


Combustion is an endearingly corny, yet undeniably thrilling tall tale of heroism that will leave you thoroughly entertained and a goofy smile on your face. I look forward to the next installment in this series!

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post we may earn a small commission to help offset our running costs.

Have you read Combustion ? Do you want to?

Join the discussion below.

This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge.

BOOK DETAILS:  Combustion by Steve Worland (Audible | Booktopia | Kobobooks | Amazon)

Genre: Action-Adventure, Thriller, Drama, Audio, Humour

Author Information: Steve Worland has worked extensively in film and television in Australia and the U.S.A. He has written scripts for Working Title and Icon Productions, worked in script development for James Cameron’s Lightstorm and wrote Fox Searchlight’s Bootmen, which won five Australian Film Institute awards. Steve also wrote the New Line action-comedy telemovie Hard Knox, episodes of the television series Big Sky and the Saturn award-winning Farscape. He is the author of two novels, Velocity and Combustion. Steve lives in Sydney with his wife Georgie and daughter Holly.

– Check out Steve Worland’s official website and his chat about Combustion with the Sydney Morning Herald

Other reviews of Combustion: FairDinkum Crime; Book’d Out

* My receiving this title free from the author did not affect my ability to express my honest opinions in this book review.