High school senior Tanner Malone has bombed the Test, a high-stakes exam that establishes how much he owes for his corporate-funded education. Burdened by a crushing debt that rules out college, Tanner enlists in the navy of Archangel, a star system with four terraformed worlds. But he hasn't factored in the space pirates.
Just as Tanner begins basic training, the government ramps up its forces to confront a band of rowdy raiders who are wreaking havoc in the void. Led by complex and charismatic Captain Casey, the outlaws love a little murder and mayhem, but they are also democratic, egalitarian, and devoted to freeing each new recruit from debt and corporate oppression.
Assigned to the front lines, Tanner soon finds himself caught in the crossfire between ruthless foes, cruel comrades, and unforgiving space. Can he do his duty when good and evil look so much alike?
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DIE HARD…In Space! The student loan wars
I wanted to like it..
I've read other works by the author (Good Intentions) and thought I would like his try at Military Sci-Fi. Unfortunately I came away more than a little disappointed. The protagonist Tanner just didn't work for me. His self-doubt and insecurity came on a little too thick in the beginning. I get he was young and inexperienced, but while his experiences at the start may be true to life, it felt too forced. As if his troubles were suppose to endear him to us, but ultimately made me feel annoyed with him.
The story picks up once he starts his training. I don't think the novel covers any new ground with the boot camp portion. Its been done a million times in other books and movies, but it was still fun and I felt like Tanner really did develop as a character.
Running parallel to Tanner's arc is the story line of the pirates. I almost wish the author spent more time with the pirates. The character Casey was a continual favorite of mine. In many ways they had the more interesting story line.
Then the third act. Other reviewers have called it Die Hard in space. I just felt it was completely over the top. Tanner goes from a competent, albeit an inexperienced crewman, to becoming Rambo. He is repeated injured, sometimes gravely, but continues fighting against impossible odds. Don't get me wrong, much of later chapters are very exiting and Tanner is smart in his attacks, but there are parts that made me groan at the complete unlikelihood of his success. In the end he comes away as the big hero and everyone celebrates.
And here is where I had the biggest problem with the story. (Minor spoilers here) Earlier in the story Tanner has a run in with some pirates on another ship. His initial fight came off much more realistic and the resulting aftermath felt very grounded. Tanner's discussion with the chaplain felt real...it made him human. Not so with at the end. Friendly banter with a friend and then on to awards. To me, it felt like the guy should be going through some major PTSD.
- John Moore