By: David Weber
Disclaimer: This review is based upon an Uncorrected Advance Reading Copy that I won through a giveaway on Goodreads.com. That means I didn’t pay for the book. It also means that it had multiple grammar and other errors, some of which may have affected the released book and make it different from that which I read.
The concept of the book is pretty simple. An alien race, set on colonizing Earth and making humans into warriors and farmers, comes and kills about half the population in kinetic strikes all military targets and most of the major population centers. What ensues is a story about how much the alien race misunderstood the human race, and underestimated humans’ ability to adapt and fight back.
The first two thirds of the book are actually pretty good. The one dim spot there is that I though that the descriptions of the weapons and munitions was a bit overdone. Maybe you need to do that for futuristic/sci-fi weapons, but the 20th and 21st century weapons that were used don’t need that. Or at least I didn’t think so. It also jumped around a lot at the beginning, introducing the characters. It was a bit confusing, but as the story went on, they all started to gel and it was far less noticeable. Weber shows his military sci-fi roots and really makes the story and plot believable.
Which brings us to the last third or so of the book. More specifically, the ending of the book. Without giving too much away, there’s a bit of a revelation at the end that changes much of the dynamics of the story. My problem with the last third or so of the book is that it felt rushed. One moment, the humans have suffered a pretty devastating loss in the battle to defend Earth, and the next, they’re silently and invisibly destroying entire bases of the aliens. I’ll leave the what, why, and how of that to the book, but there’s very little leading up to the cause, and very little by way of explanation of how they got there. If the back of the book hadn’t said outright that somewhere, vampires come into play, I would have thought that Weber was trying to leave the reveal as a surprise of sorts. But, we already know that they are vampires, so why we don’t get any of the backstory, or the explanation is a bit of a mystery.
Maybe the future novels of this series will help ease that a bit and give more of the explanation. But, as a stand-alone, it’s just too thin. If I get the chance, I’ll likely read the next book in the series, but I won’t be one of the people waiting in line for it either. If you’re into military sci-fi, it’s worth reading.