Most helpful critical review
153 of 176 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2011
I was surprised to find that I did not like this book, given the overwhelmingly positive reviews. I've concurrently purchased and read quite a few of the other similarly priced indie sci-fi ebooks written at the same time, and I enjoyed all of them, and found them almost all high quality, well written, and entertaining. However, this one was the one that I felt underperformed by a fair margin - even given the low price ($2.99)
The book is fast-paced, but at great cost to the characters. As an adult reader, I found none of them believable - they all seemed to me oversimplified caricatures of a teenage boy's fantasy reality. This is coming from a reader who loves action, no less.
In particular, I found the protagonist's development completely unrealistic. A schoolteacher by background, becomes a military genius on his very first battle, manages to forget the graphic deaths of his two kids within days, and is found busily carousing intimately with a too-conveniently placed naked early 20s female sidekick in that time. This oversimplified character and plot development is so cliche and unoriginal that I thought only kids would be able to overlook it. The descriptions of the female sidekick pretty much sum up the level of writing in this book - in the midst of a high-tension, life-or-death scenario, generous wording is given to pay particular attention to her shapely form, state of undress, and appealing features. Oh yes, and she's naked pretty much the entire first few days they're together. Seriously? This sort of writing is straight out of a low-budget "B Movie" script - it was a shock to me to encounter such banality in sci-fi book.
The rest of the book is also greatly oversimplified for a fan of hard science fiction. If you like reading stories with detailed, unexpected and deep twists, this definitely is not one of them - I could predict every encounter and the outcome way before it even happened. I'm doubly surprised so many reviewers here found the "challenges" imaginative. When the key idea of the protagonist is to repulse an alien attack with no more complexity than aiming all your weapons at one spot instead of all over the place, I'm not impressed. (That was the main strategy for the initial few encounters, and is responsible for major successes!) I'm not expecting something as original and well done as "Ender's Game" here, but I was beyond underwhelmed with the military strategy demonstrated in this book.
I suspect I would have enjoyed this a lot more as a 13 year old male with little experience with hard scifi and the reality and complexity of adult human interaction. But let me be absolutely clear here - this is not even close to what the old masters of scifi (Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, etc.) would produce in terms of quality, despite what some other reviewers have implied. One idea in a single sentence from those authors has more depth and complexity than anything found in this work.