Genre: Sci-Fi (Military) Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4.5/5 stars Series: yes - first book
When Carl Butler, a semi-retired Colonel, is sent to the far reaches of the galaxy to investigate a missing officer, he knows something big is going on – something he’s not being told. On the surface, it seems simple enough – find out what happened to a councillor’s son who was wounded and evacuated but never arrived. Why would a routine investigation be given to him months before retirement?
Arriving at the base orbiting a war-torn planet, Butler finds it to be full of secrets and sabotage. The hospital commander won’t cooperate, radar data goes missing, the Special Ops leaders refuses to come off planet and witnesses disappear – all before he even encounters the enemy. Someone is using the war as cover, and the answers are planetside – if he can survive long enough to find them.
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I usually struggle with sci-fi, screaming and tearing out my hair at the incorrect science. To my joy, there was nothing glaring wrong here. There was the odd ‘concept that’s only theory/initial research right now’ extrapolated into the future but nothing that required a suspension of disbelief.
The sci-fi element of this book is the setting. At it’s heart, this book is a thriller in a military sci-fi setting. The central mystery drives the book forwards at a pace. It starts fast and never lets up. The planetside chapters are the most intense action wise, conveying a sharp sense of chaos and immersing the reader into being in the middle of a combat situation. Some people are saying the end comes along too fast, but I liked it – it really forced me to be alert and work out the puzzle myself.
This is not a book to read if you want to tune out rather than think or contribute. Mammay doesn’t spoon feed the details – I had to assemble the pieces at times. He’s not talking down the reader or insulting their intelligence. Of course, somethings are explained, particularly anything technical.
I loved that, thanks to my science background, I was often able to piece the puzzle together before the explanation*. Not many sci-fi books trust their audience enough to give them the time to work it out. Near the end, my mind was a page or two ahead on the consequences, which only excited me more for the ending.
Butler’s POV comes across so strongly. I felt utterly pulled into his thoughts, like I was experiencing it all alongside him, sharing his frustrations and feeling my own breathing elevate in the combat scenes. I didn’t notice until about halfway that it was 1st person past tense (a combination I generally don’t like, more proof of how well written it was!).
Without spoiling anything, the decision Butler makes at the end was quite a risk for Mammay to take, but I loved it. It leaves a very interesting scenario for book 2 – which I’m really looking forwards to.
*Note: you absolutely DO NOT need a science background to enjoy this book. It just added to my enjoyment as I rarely get to geek out over research.
Read my reviews of other books by Michael Mammay:
Planetside (this series):