Rating: 3.5 Stars ★★★☆☆
“How much debt do you people carry?”
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?
Let’s be honest here, Tanner is a Gary Stu. He is great at everything he does. He’s a a smart kid, he’s a great fighter, he’s loved by the other recruits.
And he has more luck than any person has a right to have. Shots miss him or he gets wounded but not too badly. He survives things no one should survive.
All those bullets, only to hit a glancing blow across his helmet and a ricochet through his lower leg. The combat jacket stopped the rest. His luck held.
But hey, it was still a lot of fun to read. I loved the star systems, the different planets, the politics.
Also, aside from Tanner’s outrageous skill and luck, the military part of this book feels real. It is coherent, it feels like it could be true. We got the different ship classes, the uniforms, the emergency procedures. And it’s fun to read about.
Janeka paused. “Why, yes, Recruit Gomez. I think you’ve earned it.”
“Thank you, gunny!”
“In fact,”Janeka said with a savagely sweet grin, “you can sit next to me.”
It was too horrifying for anyone not to laugh. “Drop! On your faces!” Janeka barked at the snickering crew.
And then there are the pirates. They were assholes, but there was also something about them. I hated them for what they did but at the same time… they were interesting. We got Lauren, a badass female pirate and Casey, an oddly charming pirate lord.
That’s what this book does really well: it presents the pirates as people, charming, you almost like them – and then they do something horrible.
“I’ve got a fix on the barracks and police stations,” Carl said. “Or at least, you know… what we think are those.”
“The fuck you waitin’ for?” The captain shrugged. “Light’em up.”
A fun romp through space, an action-packed military space-opera.