This was an intricately detailed military science fiction book that finally won me over at the end. It won’t be the book for everyone, but if you enjoyed Ender’s Game, this feels like a more grown up version to some degree. It takes a lot of work to stick it out with Tanner through boot camp and his time as a grunt, but the end is worthy of a Firefly episode. It is part of the kindleunlimited program, so it’s free if you are a member ($3.99 ebook if you aren’t). While I thought the pace was a deal breaker, it has managed to garner 4.5 stars with over 800 Amazon reviews, so it might just rock your galaxy. I do have to say that the cover both repulsed me and drew me in with it’s old school pulpy SciFi charm.
High school senior Tanner Malone has bombed the Test, a high-stakes exam that establishes how much he owes for his corporate-funded education. Burdened by a crushing debt that rules out college, Tanner enlists in the navy of Archangel, a star system with four terraformed worlds. But he hasn’t factored in the space pirates.
Just as Tanner begins basic training, the government ramps up its forces to confront a band of rowdy raiders who are wreaking havoc in the void. Led by complex and charismatic Captain Casey, the outlaws love a little murder and mayhem, but they are also democratic, egalitarian, and devoted to freeing each new recruit from debt and corporate oppression.
Assigned to the front lines, Tanner soon finds himself caught in the crossfire between ruthless foes, cruel comrades, and unforgiving space. Can he do his duty when good and evil look so much alike?
Sometimes the ending of a book can change everything, and this was certainly the case in this book. The last third of this book was exactly what I wanted – action, action, action. However, as enthralling as the ending was, I found myself struggling to get through the first half of the book. I actually put it down at 56%, because it was just so long. Boot camp and first assignments were essential to setting up the fabulous resolution, but I really think they dragged on for too long. Don’t even get me started on the political jabber. I think my real problem was that I just couldn’t see where this was all going to pay off. I’m glad I got the reward, but the pace is off, and some of those moments could have been accelerated to make it more engaging. I did, however like Tanner. His situation certainly evoked empathy, but I have to admit his isolation was depressing because it seemed neverending. It did parallel nicely with the narrative of brand new space pirate (Space Pirate!) Darren who was also experiencing the life of newbie grunt. However, I think I might have found a more interesting parallel between the pirate captain with his comraderie and power to Tanner’s loneliness and powerlessness. It would have made for a more cohesive narrative hand off. Overall, this was a decent read, and I’m so tempted to pick up the next one in the hopes that all the groundwork has been placed, so it can be action packed from the start.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.