Ahoy there me mateys! Finish two series and so start another right? This military sci-fi trilogy has been on me list for a while because the first book was a Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2013), Locus Award Nominee for Best SF Novel (2014), and John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee (2014). Plus it was written by a woman. Arrrr!
I thought this was an excellent novel. The story follows Lieutenant James Shelley who is the member of a squad of soldiers that are linked together via a neural network. War is big business and defense contracting companies rule the world. Shelley’s goal is to serve his time and keep his soldiers alive. Part of what helps him not die are his precognitive premonitions. But when his current mission goes wrong, Shelley ends up needing cybernetic replacements. He is inadvertently drawn into the bigger picture as both a new prototype of elite soldier and the war hero image he wants nothing to do with. And everyone wants to know – what is the voice in his head?
The book is split up into “seasons” which correlate to the reality tv program that Shelley didn’t sign up to star in (poor guy). Part one deals with Shelley’s mission in Africa that goes wrong and I thought was a stellar introduction. Part two deals with Shelley’s injuries and readjustment. Part three deals with the escalation of politics and drama which of course involves Shelley. And part four sets up the next book.
This was excellent. I loved Shelley as the main character. He is the inadvertent, snarky soldier who does a good job and ye can’t help but root for him. I loved following him on his journey and watching him question his reality and purpose in life. I also enjoyed the side characters even if they aren’t as well fleshed out. I really didn’t predict how any of the story was going to go. I also liked the diversity and gender equality. The only downside was the very end of part three which dragged a bit for me.
The technology is fun, the AI mystery aspects are engaging, and the set-up for the next book sounds great. I will be reading it and luckily I already own it! Arrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
“There Needs To Be A War Going On Somewhere”
Lieutenant James Shelley commands a high-tech squad of soldiers in a rural district within the African Sahel. They hunt insurgents each night on a harrowing patrol, guided by three simple goals: protect civilians, kill the enemy, and stay alive—because in a for-profit war manufactured by the defense industry there can be no cause worth dying for. To keep his soldiers safe, Shelley uses every high-tech asset available to him—but his best weapon is a flawless sense of imminent danger…as if God is with him, whispering warnings in his ear.
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