"This test completes your compulsory education. Congratulations! You have graduated high school. Your financial obligation is 67,879 credits. Please visit our loan officer as you exit."
Tanner Malone never bought into military myths of honor and glory. He never wanted to wear a uniform or medals. Yet when family upheaval brings his otherwise stellar performance in school to a disastrous end, Tanner's plans for university lie in ruins. Facing homelessness and a mountain of debt, Tanner enlists in his home planet's tiny navy.
It’s a hell of a time to sign up. Vicious pirates stalk the space lanes, claiming to fight an oppressive economic system even as they shed innocent blood. Civil war looms beyond the borders of Tanner’s home star system of Archangel. Corporate security fleets are nowhere to be found when trouble arises.
In response, Archangel begins ambitious military expansion. Basic training becomes six months of daily bareknuckle brawls, demanding cross-training and constant stress. Brutal as it is, Tanner will need the preparation. The pirates grow more audacious with every attack. As if that’s not enough, Tanner is assigned to a small ship whose disgruntled crew has no patience for cerebral new recruits, and they’re on the front lines of all of Archangel’s woes.
Tanner soon learns there is only one way to deal with his bullying comrades, their ruthless foes and the unforgiving void of space, and that’s to get up close and personal.
The story follows Tanner, a young academic who had done poorly in his exams. Now instead of following the footsteps of his classmates -who enter university- he decides to enlist in the navy.
A good portion of the book follows his training from raw recruit to soldier. Thus, as a result there isn’t much of a progressive storyline until the last third of the book, but I enjoyed the characterisation and world building. The main hero Tanner is likeable if a little naive. The villains were a little less defined than I would have liked, and apart from Tanner, the other characters felt a bit threadbare.
The book was slow going, but when it reached about the 70% stage it shifted quite dramatically in terms of pace and plot. I don't want to give too much away, but Tanner was initially, a naive, slightly gullible, innocent young man, suddenly changed into a combination of Rambo and Terminator. That’s the only way I could describe it as he single-handedly took out all of his enemies. It was unbelievable seeing such a transformation, and I've read reviews from Amazon that have criticised the dramatic change, but personally I found it enjoyable to read. I have to applaud Elliot Kay in writing a tense, action packed ending that had me so absorbed.
Before I reached the last third of the book, I was of the mind that this was an ok novel, but not one that I would ever revisit again. But then I hit 70%. As much as I enjoy sensible, realistic story-lines, I can’t help but love to read some John McClane action scenes, where the baddies are taken out one-by-one. The ending really did change my perspective on the book, and while I’m not brimming with impatience awaiting the sequel, I will be keeping an eye out for it.
And so, if you’re looking for a somewhat sensible, consistent story then look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a military sci-fi novel with great action scenes that border on the slightly ridiculous, then give this book a go.
Out of 10 Stars:
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