I read this novel as a Junior in High School at Harlingen's Marine Military Academy. It took me about seven hours (it would have taken less but I had to go to chow). I stayed up after "lights out" with a flashlight and hid under my blanket until I finished it. This is an incredibly engrossing story. The characters are interesting and identifiable (you truly find yourself caring about them), the narration is first rate (you'll actually feel as if you're in the old B-52), and the pace is breathless. It's still hard to believe this is Brown's first novel. Perhaps it is beginner luck that makes it so good. If you haven't read this one yet, please do. ("Day of the Cheetah" isn't bad either, by the way.) Guaranteed to be worth every nickel spent buying it and every second of lost sleep spent reading it!