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The Resisters #2: Sterling Squadron Library Binding – April 10, 2012
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Ethan Blackwood, 12, has always dreamed of being part of the Resisters, flying super-fast robot bug spaceships in simulation games, and taking classes to find out how to beat their alien enemy, the Ch'zar. In the second book (Random, 2012) of the series by Eric Nylund, Ethan and his friends must break into the Sterling Reform School and gather more recruits for the Resisters' pilot program. Peter Berkrot's narration helps move the story along, creating unique voices for the characters. However, even spot-on narration doesn't help the story's main problems-lack of a driven plot line and character development. Very little back story is provided, so listeners unfamiliar with the first title will find the story very hard to follow. Only the most dedicated fans of the series will listen to this to the end.-Katie Llera, Sayreville Middle School, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Eric Nylund is a New York Times bestselling and World Fantasy Award nominated author. He has written science fiction and fantasy novels, comic books, and has helped make many blockbuster video games.
Eric has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in chemistry. He graduated from the prestigious Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in 1994.
He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his family.
You can learn more about Eric at www.ericnylund.net.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
Sterling Squad starts off at a much faster pace than the previous one. Ethan Blackwood, the main character from the previous novel, is now a part of the Resistance. All should be well and swell, right? Not really; for one, Ethan is having a rough time fitting in. The Resistance's leader doesn't want to give him flight status, and one of his friends from the first novel, Madison, agrees with the decision. Worse, still, Ethan has a somewhat conflictive relationship with the Resistance's top ace. Things get really serious though, when Ethan has a small altercation with him, which lands not just the two of them, but a few other pilots in serious trouble. Now, just to raise the stakes a bit more, he soon finds out that the alien bad guys, the Ch'zar, are growing in number and power, and the Resistance will soon be overwhelmed unless they can find more pilots. And you thought getting a prom date was stressful.
Without spoiling anything else, I will say Ethan has got to be one of the most formidable young adult characters I've read about. Nylund's stories (with a few exceptions) involve characters thrust into situations they are very unprepared for, like Roland discovering magic and his dual-plane existence in Pawn's Dream, or Eliot and Fiona Post coming to terms with their demonic-immortal heritage in Mortal Coils and All That Lives Must Die, and he's mastered that 'genre' (if that word can be applied here) of storytelling pretty damn well. Ethan is always in trouble, but not for the sake of being in trouble; even the less believable parts make perfect sense within the context, and that's something I really enjoyed about the book. The danger is believable, and the way he handles it is not just believable, it's actually quite clever.
My one beef though is how flat some of the characters can be. There's a relationship between them, it's there, and it's got the potential to be absolutely brilliant, but I think the focus is on the story more than the characters. This approach isn't a full flaw, and it doesn't really detract from the story as a whole. But I was really hoping Madison and Ethan's relationship would be explored more deeply. Instead, we have a few new kids that seem to take the limelight from them, putting even Felix in the sidelines (much to my dismay). Their friendships are still there, but I don't feel it was as developed as it was in the first book; hell, after the exciting climax (no sarcasm; it actually was exciting), their friendship kind of takes a back seat. Though we can see Ethan's thoughts about how he's afraid to lose his old friends, new friends, among others; it's just not enough. Maybe I'm asking too much; this is a kid's novel after all (Ages 10 and up), but I do think that Nylund could've done something better in that area; his friendship/love triangles have always been extremely well-written and surprising (see Signals, A Game of Universe, and/or Pawn's Dream for more details), and I was hoping something similar. But maybe he's waiting for #3: Titan Base, which I've already preordered.
Now to sum up my review in bullet points:
-Quick-paced, fun, and satisfying; there's no dull moments.
-Believable main character, believable situations, great character development. Admittedly, there's no way any of us would've been flying giant insect fighters during our preteen years (and if you have, let me know if they're hiring adults). But I do think that had we done that, we could in some way relate to Ethan and co.
-Strong cliffhanger. Yes, there's a cliffhanger, but it's a good one. It's not like Halo 2/Gears of War's cliffhanger where we're expecting at least an epilogue or an awards ceremony or something; you get closure and you have the opening for a new installment. Not a lot of people can do something like that this well, and Nylund deserves credit for it.
-No typos, fluid writing. Have you ever read paragraphs in books that make you forget what you're reading? Well, Sterling Squad doesn't do that (Nylund *rarely, if ever,* does that). I don't remember finding any typos at all in the novel (and I'm a bit of a grammar freak), and that really helps the overall enjoyment.
-Wasted opportunities. I think Ethan's relationship with Madison, as well as his new allies, could've been better explained. I mean, Nylund did a good job in the Resisters 1; the friendships felt very real. Here, they seem tacked on, almost like an afterthought. Don't get me wrong; I don't think they're poorly executed. I just don't think he took full advantage of them, especially the one between Ethan and Madison.
Final thoughts: If you've ever read anything by Nylund, you'll know his works are often of great quality. Resisters 2 meets it, and in some ways surpasses it. Though it has its flaws, I don't think they can ruin a person's experience with it. If you're completely new to Nylund, you might find something to enjoy here too; the story, the characters, the setting; it's all very strong, and you'll very likely want to stick around for the rest of his career. Give Nylund a shot; he won't disappoint you. Hell, maybe he'll want to make you write your own stories, like he did with me.
4.5/5. Fanboy mode off.