An Original Sin – A review of the novel ‘Stage Four’

While seeking revenge, dig two gravesone for yourself.” – Douglas Horton

A question that has troubled members of the human race right from the start; when early cavemen stood motionless and stared in amazement at the afterglow of the sun and stars to the present times where we continue to sit motionless and stare in amazement in front of the afterglow of computers and smartphones; has been one long struggle to find out the meaning of life or our purpose in this vast and amazing universe. And we are a curious lot, more perhaps than a cat; every child taking its baby steps is a scientist, curious and enquiring everything about themselves and the world around. But this curiosity, this quest to acquire knowledge about everything has not always been to the benefit of all humankind.

And sometimes knowledge that comes to us ahead of its time, as an advance in this age of reason have often ended up being a step backwards for humanity. New inventions, machines & tools and such created for a good have often found their uses to be put as seeds of mass destruction. So it’s not surprising that we have had such a complicated and conflicted relationship with science and had trouble defining its boundaries in society. And that is why we have always had mad scientist stories in our fiction and as part of our general folklore.  Notwithstanding the changes in technology over the years, what has always remained constant are our fear of the same, a possible hidden and part devious plan that perhaps all this technology has in store for us.  Showcasing this fear through horror and fiction is perhaps our sane (or insane?) way of keeping the excesses of laboratory lunacy reined in, by confining it to platforms and avenues of mass consumption; a possible reason being, it may be a nightmare but now at least it’s our shared nightmare.

In author John C Payne’s latest novel, Stage Four, cancer treatment is finally at hand. The cure promises great results too, but with a very deadly catch; the patient’s DNA gets altered, turning them into monsters who will not hesitate to kill. Kat Kurbell, Pierre Duvair and Slade Glick have all been diagnosed with stage IV melanoma and there is nothing the present medicinal world can offer them as a way out of the inevitable end. This is when Bobby Biel, a research bio chemist offers them an alternate treatment, which does cure them of one disease but makes them more sick than one can imagine. When this new sickness threatens to get out of hand, steps in to the scene Jamie Richards, an ex army man and a friend of Bobby. But Jamie soon realizes that with each step that he takes, it puts him into direct confrontation with not just the ‘patients’ but also Bobby himself.

Even though Stage Four may deal with a theme in which the individuals affected are in the process of transforming into an animal or have already transformed into an animal, it doesn’t focus the narrative to the mere transformation itself and thereby avoids setting up a platform for comparison with other such transformation novels which may be scientific or mystical in origin.

The book although not recommended for a young audience as it’s rather gritty and dark in places (assuming that these young audiences are still as naive as we think or want them to be) still works as an amazing book full of action & adventure, crime & mystery, love & romance, brought together beautifully by the genius of John C Payne. The action is intense and the pace is even more arresting. There are some sequences which fully rewards your decision to pick up Stage Four, such as Bobby’s and Jamie’s trip to the Reunion Island, which if you are a Marvel comics fan then you are sure to love this bit as well.

Author John C Payne appears to be one of those authors who just love to have fun with his characters, by not limiting their movements to the confines of the plot or confines of the story to be told. He lets them free, plays God and influences each character to behave independently and with gay abandon. Make no mistake, I’m in no way instituting a lack of coherence between the plot line and the main leads but it’s just so refreshing to read a novel that isn’t trying to be something it’s not, its got its objective sorted out right from the start and that is to provide pure unadulterated entertainment with any pretensions. And that is why Stage Four will leave you quietly chuckling away and render you speechless with its amazing treatment.

Recommendation are passé, what you need to do is go out and grab a copy of Stage Four at the earliest and then prepare yourselves to be entertained by a very original and one of its kind novel.


File Size: 971 KB

Print Length: 402 pages

Publisher: Page Publishing Inc (March 17, 2014)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Language: English


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