I think people that like poorly written Sci Fi will like this book. The premise was implausible and had very little to offer.
The story was just bad.
It was okay.
I don't normally give bad reviews to books, but ever since I listened to this book Audible has been suggesting I listen to all of the rest even though I gave the book one star. I'm not sure what Audible is thinking, but every month 3 out of the 9 suggestions for me are from this author and this series. So, while the book was bad, the experience since listening to the book has been worse.
1st book in the series of 8. It was ok. The Narrator was really good, but everything else was boring. Kept finding myself drifting off onto other thoughts and would become lost of what was happening in the book. The plot was not very entertaining and at times was very predictable. If you read this don't bother reading the rest of the series. They are all the same right down to the same exact plot.
Creation of believable characters, removal of plot holes
He was pretty good at the accents, voices, and keeping them straight. He also brought energy and life to the story.
Exasperation, pain, offense
I wanted to like this book enough to finish it. I really really did. For so many reasons. But I was suffering. I was suffering too badly to continue to suffer, after getting at least 65% through the book. I love sci-fi, and I love speculative stuff and I can suspend disbelief for weird or new or even scientifically inaccurate stuff, so long as it's believable within its world. But so much of the human interactions here were completely unrealistic. The most prominent female character was inconsistent AND embarrassing. Forget the Bechdel test - the two female characters never spoke to one another and the main one never seemed to worry about anything other than a man no matter who she was talking to. Here's a great quote I remember from shortly before I quit the book "I could tell she wasn't going to give me any more sugar just then, so I decided not to beg for it. Women don't respect that." I won't even try to go into the plot holes that were so numerous my brain was feeling like the proverbial swiss cheese, just trying to keep track. I wasn't expecting high literature from this book, but this book was just too bad for me to continue.
I'm a bit more lenient with an author's first book, and this was a quick and enjoyable listen. It kept my interest pretty much the whole way through. It starts very unconventionally, which really keeps you guessing as to what will happen next. The main character gets abducted by an alien ship, has to pass several tests, and then gets put in charge and forced to fight another invading alien force. It feels very original since it could go anywhere.
Then about halfway through the books really speeds up and devolves into a more traditional marine military sci fi. The author skips a lot of time as forces build up and alien technology is proliferated in order to fight a huge ground war, and most of the latter half is filled with bloody ground battles. This part is more disappointing as it loses much of its originality and actually feels like a different book.
Then the very end puts on a twist that I didn't expect. I wondered how the next book would get set up and whether it was just a continuation of the battles we've seen. But instead something unexpected occurs and leaves a huge hook for future books. I'm interested to see where it goes from here.
If B.V Larson was a better writer. Brian Larson is a college professor and decided to put a perfected version of himself in a book. The problem was that he decided his fictional persona was always going to do the right thing despite that B.V never thought things out out. The result is a narrative littered with plot holes and terrible ideas that make the protagonist come across as an ignorant villain because he always assumes hes right (thankfully for him the narrative bends the universe to aid to his misguided attempts). To make matters worse everyone else fits into a one dimensional caricature with an IQ of around 80. The main female character enters the book nearly naked and only gets more 'seductive' from there and doesn't mind at all that shes just a shapely object. Elite troops the world over can't suggest better tactics or give incite to the unseasoned protagonist. Likewise the protagonist can spout off pseudo science that always seems to work but nobody ever corrects him that hes using the word theory for something he just thought up when hypothesis is apt.
Mark Boyett did a great job with the many voices, each voice was unique and portrayed the emotions the character felt. Interestingly he also narrated John Ringo's Troy Rising which is nearly the same book only more political. Mark Boyett has a knack for suspense on even mundane things like giving programming code or making large mirrors.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This book was recommended by a person I follow on Audible. The book hero is Kyle Riggs a professor of computer science. He and his family live in a rural area and first his children are abducted and killed then he is taken up in a spacecraft. He passes the tests and finds a civilization of computers. The alien fleet invades earth and Kyle helps the earth armies to use the alien technology to fight them. The book ends in a set up for a series. The book has lots of space and land battles and human interaction to keep it interesting. This is a bit different than the other military sci-fi books I have been reading therefore adds a bit of adventure to the reading.
Molecular biologist. Musician. Lover of science. Lover of music. Dreamer of magic. Thinker of thoughts. ||| "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C. Clarke ||| As a scientist, science fiction and fantasy inspire me to push the line of discovery forward, beyond conventional imagination, beyond conventional wisdom.
First, if I wrote the book's blurb:
An everyman computer scientist is propelled into a cosmic landscape that will bring out his best, and, unfortunately, his worst. The "ring" to Hell is manufactured with Kyle Riggs' intentions. But, as you'll find out, Riggs' really is the right man and perfect protagonist for BV Larson's genre smashing space operatic military apocalyptic science fiction pragmatic technothriller.
Second, why I chose this book:
This book caught my eye because I was looking for a new sci-fi series, and I really enjoyed Troy Rising which was also narrated by Mark Boyett and has been compared to Star Force by others. Similar to at least the first book of Troy Rising (Live Free or Die), SWARM and the Star Force series in general (I'm on Book 3 as of writing this) has a strong protagonist who starts as a humble rural type with an additional edge of technical prowess (More about Kyle Riggs below). But while Troy Rising really lost its momentum after the first book, the Star Force series keeps it going and lays it on hard.
If you like military science fiction of the sort portrayed in the Troy Rising series, you will love the Star Force series. And, to those of you who enjoyed the Star Force series, you will enjoy Troy Rising. But, as of Book 3, I have to put Star Force above John Ringo's space opera brother from another mother.
Other comments have already mentioned some of the reasons you may have to suspend disbelief, but I think good science fiction will always include a few things that make you feel a touch incredulous. Nevertheless, I really don't feel like Star Force takes it over the top in any way, and I never felt like what I was hearing was too absurd or unbelievable. The technology focuses a lot on a few specific plot elements (if you are intrigued by nanotechnology, this book is your fantasyland) , but the descriptions of said technology are surprisingly within the realms of science fact. Larson either did his research well or has a wealth of information that I wish was wielded by more writers of science fiction and fantasy. Most readers will find a little bit to learn from this book. And, as good science fiction should, it will hopefully inspire your envisionment of things that are very possible given our current rate of technological advancement, even without extra terrestrial intervention.
A little bit of analysis about the books protagonist:
Like so many nerds growing up in the information age, I at least considered the possibility of pursuing computer science as a career choice. And, I think anyone who has ever found beauty in the workings of a machine or the elegance in a mathematical proof will be able to relate to Kyle Riggs and put themselves in his position. Larson seems to intentionally leave out specific details about Kyle Riggs appearance and style so that the reader may either truly empathize with Riggs' through his tribulations, or one can easily insert the image and essence of whichever heroically moral archetype they feel most comfortable with. Some may criticize that this leaves the main character seeming more hollow, but I think this allows Riggs to be less a man and more a symbol for the resilience of humanity. Kyle Riggs is not a single man, but as I alluded to in my first sentence all the way at the top, he is every man.
Finally, While Mark Boyett's accents may at times all sound alike, his attempts still bring wonderful life to the characters. I really enjoyed Boyett's work for the Troy Rising series and believe he shines even more here. I'll be looking for more books narrated by him simply for his performance. Many audiobook narrators have a voice with distracting qualities of varying degrees,making listening to the book somewhat challenging regardless of the content. But, with Boyett, I have absolutely no trouble focusing on the story he is telling, but at the same time his acting fits most characters absolutely perfectly.
That brings me to one more point. This is the first series where I've noticed that the narrator is incredibly effective at channeling a representative presence in his characters. What I mean is, the cast in this story are from so many diverse backgrounds, as they should be. So much military sci-fi puts the US at the forefront with a couple token internationals sprinkled in due to necessity. But I feel that Larson very effectively has created a very believable cast of characters from all aspects of life from all over planet Earth. This, of course, is something which would almost definitely be the case provided the scenario in the book came about.
Furthermore, and somewhat importantly, he doesn't harp on about it. In the third Troy Rising book, 75% of the story was about the conflict between South American culture versus US culture versus Middle Eastern culture. So, sure, there was a lot of diversity,and sure, there almost certainly would be a culture clash provided people from diverse backgrounds were forced together in close quarters. But I do not think it has to be a huge focus, or a focus at all really,in a book that is about the unification of humanity into an established and significant force.
Thanks for reading.
My wife says she can read me like an open book. Though she regrets not being able to shut me up the same way. :)
... But, overall, it's a good listen; not a wasted a credit.
You know when your friends occasionally describe a movie as a good "popcorn matinee" for those Saturday afternoons when there's nothing else to do? This is like that.
I like to think of this series now as my warm backup when "credit day" arrives yet finding myself all caught up with my main GoTo authors and waiting for their next title.
If you find yourself in that boat and enjoy the occasional bucket of popcorn (with butter) and military sci-fi story a-la "War of the Worlds," meets "Transformers," meets "Alien vs. Predator," AND you're feeling adventurous enough to give an unexplored author a shot, then you're likely to enjoy this one.
Head nod, too, to the performance of narrator Mark Boyett. Mr. Boyett's pacing, voice inflection and character-voice diversity complements the rhythm that was probably intended by author B.V. Larson.
MEL'S BOTTOM LINE: Though it devolves a bit in the middle to a mundane "shoot-em-up" ground fight, there's more than enough originality and enigmatic backstory to keep you engaged in Book 1, even as you "Wish List" future titles in this promising series for those slow Saturday afternoons. But when you do, take this tip to heart: don't spare the popcorn butter! :)
Non-stop action throughout. Your imagination runs wild with each new solar system and the aliens that inhabit them. If you like the Marines, action or science fiction, you will love this series!
Best Sci-Fi I've read in a long time. War of the Worlds meets Terminator. Can't wait to read the next book in the series.