My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The opening scene of Marines by Jay Allan has you clinching your orifi alongside the greenest of green Privates as he is shot from a space cannon inside his metal Marine Infantry suit toward the enemy planet below him. It sort of reminded me of the drop scene in that do-over movie that Tom Murry (or Bill Cruise?) was in… Edge of Groundhog Day… I think it was….
Anyway, you see some action time, then you get to flash back to where Private Cain began his journey from Earth. It is at this point you begin to get the full picture of the society of the Crimson Worlds. It is a well developed future society. The details of its development are copious and well done (if you like that sort of thing… which I do. If you don’t, you may get bored with some of it). The origin story of Cain, and the dystopian/utiopian reality of the future Earth and it’s eight superpowers are quite intense.
Then you resume with his military journey, where Cain proves himself to be an astute military practitioner. He quickly moves up the chain of command, to his constant surprise (and mine too actually, but it’s told from his perspective, so maybe he cuts out the ‘awesome’ because his character genuinely doesn’t see it as such? I chose to give the author the benefit of the doubt here.) Consequently, he becomes one of the most decorated military heroes of the war. You will get to see several battles in his career, but many of them read a bit like an after-action report than as if you were in the battle.
The three stars I give are for world building, tech details, and for enough story flow to keep my interest despite the lack of really exciting action I would expect from this type of book. I had some issues with the characters being somewhat bland, and the dialog was not very exciting. It was very much the style of a military journal or memoir with only two or three other characters shown with any depth at all. That doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting story though. Don’t let any flaws I might have incorrectly perceived drive you away from trying the book, though. It is worth reading. In fact, I will probably read the next installment to see how the foreshadowed societal shift takes place. I have to reiterate that the world building is top notch. Heck, it is even ‘possible’ if we found real wormholes to drive our spaceships through!
I do have to point out one big ‘irk’ I found in the book. It may not bother most, but it did bother me. The biggest ‘irk’ I had in this book was a grammatical choice. They used digits for numbers instead of the words. It really throws me out of a story. I’m reading a tale, and then all of a sudden I get hit with things like: 800 troops out of 1026 total, and we had 35% casualties in one unit, but only 60% of those were seriously wounded… now I feel like I’m looking at an Excel spreadsheet instead of reading a novel. This is where some of that ‘after-action report’ feel came into play. Whoever edited this needs to understand that this is bad form.
OK, so all told, this is a three star book for me, and I call it a Worthwhile Read.