The book sets a great atmosphere and the protagonist is initially captivating. The narrator does a good job and the book despite it's flaws is entertaining until it becomes laughable in the end. A fitting description might be Terminator melts into Romancing the Stone.
The book repeatedly pulls it's punches. The lead is always "about" to get violent, but keeps warning people not to mess with her instead. The action takes a nose-dive while the protagonists wrestles with school-girlish issues of love. All but one of the potential villains have less than a page of character development in the entire book making them irrelevant to the reader. Despite the title, it is never demonstrated that the main character has any particular ability to obtain or analyze information. Her only ability in this regard seems to be that she grew up in Africa and knows the lingo. To add insult to injury the character to be rescued becomes an unimportant afterthought and the main character decides that embarrassment might be punishment enough for the people who tried to kill her and her friends.
The bottom line is that the author set out to create a Lisbeth Salander like character with no idea of what motivates such a character and little idea of what the genre expects. The extreme weakness of the protagonist at the end (i.e. indecisive, illogical, passive, and naive) would make Jack Bauer and Mitch Rapp hurl. And back to pulling punches, the author blends three different endings together instead of choosing a solid one. It's akin to "It's okay that I let my son's killer go free, because he died in a car accident a few weeks later."
There are several moments when crises are at a head and one wrong move of diplomacy could lead to disaster and bloodshed. Inter-species relations, linguistics, politics and intelligence (in the spy sense), are some of the aspects that make the Foreigner series of books such a remarkable achievement in the field of science fiction.
Bren Cameron, is great as always as is the Dowager. The captains, other than Jace, are a bit overdone (i.e. hysterical).
I listened to the book over two days.
This book is exactly what those that have read the series so far have come to expect. It might be a little bit pat in places, but is engaging throughout. Be aware that this is the first book in a 3-part arc, meaning that the ending leaves you wanting more which can be frustrating. This is even apparent in that it would be hard to say for sure what the title "Tracker" means. Hopefully the next book is not far behind.
First, this book is barely SciFi. Second, it makes little sense. Third it's a tapestry of cliche.
Very Minor Spoiler Alert:
To honest reviewers who rated the book positively, I can see how the books sense of "pulp-fictiony" fun and male fantasy appeals. However, I think it would be better for those that just want a little SciFi farce somewhat in the vain of Firefly. I give the book credit for a degree of creativity with alien races, although nothing feels particularly innovative. The writing is well-paced and is easy to listen to, although everything up to the point where aliens are first encountered seems long and drawn out. The first hour can be summed up as: Buddies, restored B-52, Brazil flight, hot emotional Spanish chick, Bermuda Triangle.
The first hint early on that something was off was when the hero is refueling his plane in modern day Puerto Rico USA, and has a run-in with the secret police. Is the author referring to the FBI? The second hint is when we meet a Harvard graduated, CIA agent with nothing to indicate any intelligence, discipline, or training. After that, we are to believe that aliens advanced enough for interstellar travel need help from a Scooby-Doo crew fro Earth?
Enjoy this book as a fun escapist romp if that's what you are in the mood for. Please do read some of the negative reviews--it's a little bit odd how far down they seem to be pushed. The difference in reviews may reflect that the book isn't what many are expecting. This may not be the writers fault as publishing houses decide titles and the blurb.
Yes. This book has a wonderful setup where the odds are so stacked against the good guys, that there is a palpable suspense throughout as they try to level the playing field.
Near the beginning, an alien emerges from the ocean into India and a little girl tells her mother that someone swam all the way from Sri Lanka. There are a mix of funny and suspenseful moments throughout the book although there is probably a lack of extremely memorable moments.
The narrator did a perfect job of delivering the book, while being unobtrusive.
Since "You're Screwed" would probably not prevail, something like "The Moscow Rules Go Intergalactic"
It was surprising that for as many of the tech and military things that the author got right, there were some ridiculous errors as well. It may sound minor, but I was just cringing as a Naval officer was apologizing to an Admiral for not saluting at a social function. The American Navy, doesn't salute indoors unless they are "At Arms" or "Covered". This could have been caught be anyone who ever served in the Navy or Marines.
On the tech. side there was a bizarre episode where a subsonic stealth bomber could apparently race around the globe and destroy multiple satellite dropped pods before they could disperse their payloads. Note that it takes only minutes for a satellite dropped pod to reach the ground. There was also the confused reference to a nano-tech inoculation that protected against biological weapons as an "antigen," then followed by a great tech explanation of how the nanite worked by recording the users DNA and then getting rid of any foreign DNA once it has the baseline--hardly an antigen.
Early characterization in the book was good, but at some point it just kind of stopped which caused a bit of disconnect from the characters.
None of the oversights really detracted from the book, but they could have easily been avoided.
Predictable, self-contradicting, and hollow.
Parker's other books don't abandon the concept of free will--this one largely does. He must have mistaken darkness for relevance. Don't get me wrong, I like dark books (e.g. The Collector, At First Sight), but this book seemed like a classroom writing exercise exploring what it might be like to be an immature, overly sensitive, schizophrenic sociopath.
Here are the key points of the book:
*If you are a good guy and a vet, violence suddenly breaks out all of the time.
*Dads want their sons to take over the family farm and their sons don't want to.
*Fishing takes your mind off of killing people.
*Mentally ill people are supernaturally influenced to evil.
The bottom line is that Parker's other books have an interplay and balance between good and evil, and this book doesn't. It may have been more interesting as a study in what it's like to know someone who latter goes on to make national news for an atrocity.
If you're looking for a TJP book to read, I highly recommend, "The Fallen" which has much more resonance.
The narrator did a great job.
Dull incredulity. I couldn't believe the author wrote such an incomplete, unsuspenseful book.
The protagonist is basically likable, and in another context, I might have rooted for him, but there was little point as everyone in the book was a victim to circumstance. Parker's writing itself flows and the book is easy to listen to, despite the plot issues. Maybe the author was trying for The Grapes of Wrath, but ended up with the Avocados of Inanity.
Some characters in this book are indestructible like Superman, but WITHOUT any kryptonite weakness. Need I say how this lowers the stakes.
I liked the first book, but found this book be bizarrely naive. In one scene two warring factions put their differences aside and make peace, literally, after two minutes of a lecture on why aggression is counterproductive. Two more minutes and the foes that were on the brink of genocide become best allies.
Imagine Hitler, facing imminent defeat, talks to the U.S. about ceasing hostilities and saying "My God What Have I Done, I've Been So Wrong. How can I ever atone for what I have done? Killing innocent people is wrong, I see that now". And he means it! Then a few days later, the U.S. provides Adolf with nukes so that Germany can protect themselves against Russia. I am not exaggerating--even for a YA, this would be highly simplistic plotline. A C.J. Cherryh novel on the other hand, has very realistic and engaging diplomacy to achieve peace. Such a blow to realism.
I guess I know now why I felt the "Love Conquers All" subtitle of the first book was a little iffy. I found the tech and battle scenes fine although when you're Superman the odds are in your favor. Did I mention that the Superman-like characters are also psychic because being unkillable and a self-contained WMD is not enough advantage. I'm not so much put off with the book, just very surprised that a reasonably well written novel would have such glaring weaknesses.
This book is solid Military SciFi. The characterization is good and the overall plot keeps your interest. Be aware that the book has an unforgivable cliff-hanger ending. Unforgivable because nothing is resolved (i.e. no ending) as our heroes embark on a special, dangerous mission to find out what is really going on. The book should have ended on some major milestone being achieved, even if it was just a battle and not the war. Obviously the cliffhanger is less important, if you get the next book, but it is frankly an unprofessional way to write: Every book in a series should be satisfying, even if you stop there. Imagine if Star Wars ended with Luke taking off in his X-wing on a mission to destroy the Death Star . . . roll credits.
The love interest between two of the main characters is a little off-putting, not because it doesn't belong in a SciFi novel, but because it is cliche, predictable, and time-consuming for the limited value it adds to the characterization. You have two attractive people from different sides of the tracks confined together in a small space and initially snippy and antagonistic--what could possibly happen here? With the third person omniscient narration, you get so much of their inner thoughts that it is sometimes like a friend babbling on and on about their relationship worries. I didn't mind the "love story" that much, but it just sort of derailed the action every so often.
I enjoyed the first book in the series, but this one seemed like fluff--not necessarily bad, just unfocused. It has many of the interesting elements of the first such as inter-clan rivalry and an array of unique alien races. It also has a intriguing exploration of how Pyanfar's mate copes with being overthrown and largely emasculated.
The publisher's summary implies the human plays some major role concerning trade, but that really gets lost in what largely seems to be the space equivalent of an extending Hollywood chase scene.
To me it largely depends on whether the 3rd book in the series is good. The book is tolerable as a bridge to the 3rd book, if it delivers.
While SciFi, this book plays out a lot like a spy novel. It is very heady and psychological with all the intrigue of undercover plants and double agents. Characters believe they are fully in control, only to find out that they've been played and all of their actions anticipated.
Not everyone will enjoy the ambiguous way the story unfolds or the lack of direct explanation of what is happening, but for those that do, this novel is quite remarkable. The court room scenes where the attorneys have to believe enough in there clients to put there life on the line with their clients are especially entertaining.
This book is good not great. There are many other authors better at world building, space opera, or hard scifi. What the book does have is decent characters and enough action and suspense to entertain.
Sometimes it's a bit too cliche (e.g. time travel paradoxes, nanites) and sometimes a bit too campy (e.g. we're trapped in a room thats shrinking, a princess is leading the rebels). The aliens seem borrowed from central casting (e.g. We need a frog, a lizard, and a sexy green chick, stat).
Overall I like the book with two complaints:
1. The main character seems a little contradictory: I invented a hyperspace drive, but I'm dumb about everything else except if my life's in danger.
2. There is a lot of silliness to the story. You see, all the aliens seem to like practical jokes, and they don't think of simple ways to defeat enemy shields, but the primitive human does.
Hopefully as the series evolves it will take itself a little more seriously so the reader can as well.
I have read all 10 books in the series and liked them all. The first two books are a little too cutesy in places--apparently the author thinks this is adding to the book when it's actually taking away. While it's great that the main character is a "natural" rather than the book learning type, he takes a little too much continual dufus pride in this. Also, fiction seems to be littered with characters that do what needs to be done and then fret about it like a little school child. While I dig characters with emotional depth, the books occasionally go overboard.
Also there's a Messiah gimmick which is pretty cheesy at times and may scare the reader that the books are going to go "Left Behind" which they thankfully don't. If the books didn't keep me interested with battles, espionage, and intergalactic diplomacy, I might have been more annoyed. At some points the military aspects are pretty inauthentic, but at times they are very well done. All-in-all these are better than average, although not exceptional SciFi. I actually found them better than the Lost Fleet books I read because I found the main character in those to be somewhat of a caricature, but I respect those that disagree.
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