The book appears to be self-published. It was done using CreateSpace, and author Mike Cook also did the cover art (wherein he forgot to finish the foremost scorpion's front right leg). It's dedicated to his son Jonathan, who I'm guessing he named the main character after. Anyway, onward!
The novel begins with teenage protagonist Jonathan Landers having just flipped his quad bike in the Mojave Desert (which Cook spells "Mohave"), some distance from civilization, outside of the Nevada town of Laughlin. He's badly twisted his ankle. Admonishing himself for taking a path he knew to be dangerous and not telling anyone where he was going, he starts limping back towards civilization. Jonathan has a tender spot when it comes to animals, bugs especially. As a child, he'd joined a friend in burning ants with a magnifying glass; since then, he's felt so guilty over it that he doesn't like harming living creatures. Plants are another matter, as we see when he accidentally hurts his already twisted ankle and falls onto a cactus (ouch!). Enraged, he grabs a rock and prepares to squash the cactus (vengeance!) when he notices a scorpion on it (author Cook insists on calling it "an insect"). His rage fades and he proceeds on his less than merry way.
Suddenly, a massive quake hits the area. Jonathan falls and smacks his head against a rock, causing a huge gash to appear. Ouch, this poor kid can't catch a break. He's certain he'll die out in the desert, but fortunately, his uncle, Eddy, got worried about him. Eddy shows up in a car just as Jonathan is about to black out completely.
In a scene set around the same time, we're introduced to a biker nicknamed "Sand Trap." He's a tough hombre who is a member of a gang called the Forsaken. They've got a huge beef with a rival gang of theirs, Los Rojos Assassninos, over some unspecified thing. Sand Trap is headed to Laughlin to participate in the annual biker fest or something, but first he has to go to Las Vegas and commit some unspecified bad deed against Los Rojos; due to a fight at a past biker fest in Laughlin, which got the two gangs a lot of, well, let's say unwanted police attention, the two groups have an unspoken agreement not to feud during the event, but before and after are a different matter, and that's precisely what Sand Trap intends to do.
The sight of a buzzard makes him realize he's almost out of gas. Not wanting to break down in the ass-end of nowhere, he pulls into a Chevron station. He begins filling up and shoots the breeze with the cashier. Suddenly, the quake hits, and Sand Trap is thrown violently to the floor, hitting his head. Dizzy, he checks on the cashier, and finds him with his skull apparently crushed and blood everywhere. The building decides it doesn't wanna stay up anymore, and collapses just as Sand Trap escapes. Deciding that the station's destruction and the cashier's death means he doesn't have to pay, he finishes gassing his bike up and rides off. The building collapses into a sinkhole of some sort, and something decides to scuttle free and out into the gathering darkness...
The next day, Jonathan awakens to find himself at home in his own bed, sunburned but alive. After a shower, he heads downstairs to find his mother and uncle arguing. Julie Landers is from Iowa. A single mom, her son is the result of a relationship with a man who promptly bailed the minute he discovered Julie was preggers, insisting he'd be a bad father. Thanks for nothing, asswipe. Now she lives in Nevada with her brother Eddy. Incidentally, Eddy, despite being Julie's brother, is described as having a Texan accent. Apparently he grew up there and not Iowa. I'm unclear on how or why that is.
Julie insists that this latest near miss means Jonathan needs to get rid of the quad (which is still out in the desert) and not go galavanting off on stupid stunt-filled trips. Her brother however insists doing dumb things and nearly getting killed is part of being a teenager (what) and compromises with his sister, saying he'll ensure his idiot nephew carries more water with him next time (and by more, I assume he means "any," considering Jonathan doesn't seem to have brought any water on his last trip). Heading outside, Jonathan finds the morning newspaper, which has a story about the quake. It lists no fatalities (meaning either nobody found the Chevron cashier or he wasn't killed and Sand Trap abandoned him prematurely).
He goes to school where he crushes on Sarah Zimmerman and gets marked tardy by his mean teacher Mr. Crabtree, and then goes to see his token adult friend, Jack McGill, a retired boxer turned motorcycle enthusiast who is fixing up an old Harley he intends to give as a present to his grandson. The two discuss the upcoming biker fest, and in particular Jack's belief that greedy Mayor Clancy should've postponed it due to the destruction wrought by the quake. During this scene we learn that the biker fest is a huge source of income for Laughlin due to the fact it attracts a lot of tourists as both spectators and participants, and Jack is of the opinion that Mayor Clancy cares more about dollars than people. There's been talk around town that Clancy is connected to the mafia, and while Jack doesn't believe that's true, he is certain the Mayor is crooked as hell, relating a story about a homeowner named Otis McKinney who wouldn't sell his property, until he mysteriously died, and Jack thinks Clancy had him whacked.
After the two share a beer, Jonathan heads home. By now, it's getting dark out. Jack heads out back and encounters a mountain lion. He's so stunned he stops dead in his tracks and can barely move. He's lived in Laughlin his entire life and never seen a mountain lion. Suddenly, something rushes out of the shadowy desert undergrowth and seizes the predatory feline. Jack watches in dumb amazement and horror as the whatever-it-is crushes the yowling cat in enormous claws, and then a big tail with a barbed, pointy tip lunges up in an arc and stabs into the lion. Then, quick as a flash, it drags the very deceased feline back into the dark. Terrified, Jack rushes inside and grabs the phone to call 911... only to wonder what the police will say. Fearing he'll be mocked as senile or, worse, committed to a mental institution, he hangs up and grabs some Jim Beam to get himself good and drunk...
On New Year's Eve, I went with my mom and uncle to see Rogue One, my third time seeing it, their first. Unfortunately, my uncle got sick five minutes in and my mom had to drive him home (I stayed and finished the film at her insistence).
Then on New Year's Day, a friend of mine streamed Demolition Man, and I'd forgotten how much I loved it. It has a definite RoboCop feel to it; over-the-top violence interspersed with satirical jabs at American society and just how silly humanity can be in general. And speaking of violence, the eyeball scene still freaks me the hell out.
I randomly stumbled across this on eBay. It looks interesting. Anyone ever heard of it/read it?
According to the plot summary on eBay, it concerns a fellow named Jonathan Landers who lives in Laughlin, Nevada. Jonathan only cares about two things, " jamming with his high school friends in a death metal band" (a direct quote) and joyriding on his ATV. After crashing because apparently he's a really bad driver, he finds himself stranded in the desert (who goes riding alone in the desert?). He barely manages to make it back to civilization before an earthquake hits. Later, he and his friends find the remains of some kind of animal killed by huge, vicious predators. It seems that quake has unleashed a horde of giant scorpions from under the ground, and now the killer arachnids are threatening the "annual biker fest." The boys have to struggle to stop the event before the scorpions crash it.
It looks delightfully goofy and cliched. The business of the scorpions coming from underground makes me think Cook saw The Black Scorpion as a kid, and also "giant arachnids + guys on offroad vehicles" is making me think of the epic motorcycle chase from Eight Legged Freaks. And of course there's some kind of event that can't be postponed for whatever reason and of course the monsters are going to threaten to disrupt it. I love Jaws, but I hate that it gave thousands of hack writers this laziest of plot devices.