This was quite the book, and I can tell that a lot of time and effort went into the depiction of war and the soldiers involved. I can also tell the author had a great deal of respect for what he was writing. This is a very visceral book. It doesn’t hold back on any of the details of the horrors of war, but I wouldn’t say it glorified or reveled in the violence, merely displayed what war is. That’s really hard to do. I actually listen to hours and hours of veteran stories since I transcribe court cases for the Board of Veterans Affairs. I’m not sure how this book was researched, but it felt like I was listening to one of their stories. It felt genuine, there were details in there you wouldn’t necessarily think about unless you’ve lived the experience of being deployed or know someone very well who has. I wouldn’t say this is a book for everyone, I think military SFF is one of the least frequently picked when I put out polls asking for peoples favorite sub genres. If you are not into military SFF you will not like this. However, if you *do* this is one of the more unique, well put together, and intriguing stories I’ve read in a while.
All of that said, I can’t say I ever 100% invested in the characters. I would say Edane was our main character and he was just so different that I had a hard time connecting with him. Not only is he military minded, but he’s genetically altered. He’s been spliced with a dog, as have all of his “brothers”. He’s a clone made for war. He’s literally been born and bred to be part of the war machine. He doesn’t think, or act, or feel the way most humans would. This head to him having sort of alien approach to human relationships. He’s essentially asexual and doesn’t know how to be in a romantic relationship, and that does kind of take up a lot of page time considering what the book is about (a crowd funded war to overthrow a tyrant). Having an asexual male protag is also a rare feature in a book. So if that piques anyone’s interest, there are multiple non heteronormative relationships — he was raised by two mothers for instance.
The whole tone of the book was almost ‘clinical’. I’m not sure what the correct word for it is. It’s that very need to know, minimalistic approach that you sometimes get when interviewing military personnel. It really fit the theme and the prose followed suit. I wouldn’t say there was anything flourishing about this prose style, but it fit the bill and sort of highlighted the brutality of everything. Things were stated as facts and without a ton of emotional response from the MC, so it left the reader to be moved both by what happened and the MC’s reaction to it.
One of my bigger criticisms is I had a hard time telling which POV was which. The voices sounded very similar and if there was a random passage picked from random POVs I doubt I could tell you which one it was without identifying features, like a love interest.
All in all this was quite the experience and I’m glad I read it.
- Plot: 12.5/15
- Characters: 12/15
- World Building: 11/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 13/15
- Enjoyment: 7/10
Final Score: 78.5/100