This was the best sifi that have listened to in a while. Not that it is brilliant by any means, but it is very absorbing, has great pacing, is well performed and avoids most of the pitfalls which have ruined so many other contemporary sifi series. As with a lot of sifi – most of what happens is absolutely preposterous, but Larson dose a great job of making everything seem plausible as it unwinds. The hero is strong, the situations novel, the conflict imaginative. Not deep literature, but a great story.
What made this best for me is actually what it left out. I have read a lot of this style of sifi (invading space aliens etc) and in most of it the author seems more interested in tub thumping about their politics than actually telling a story. Swarm mercifully avoids this. Sure, there are political conflicts and strains, but there is too much serious stuff going on for Larson to bother going into snide asides about how easy it would be to defeat the aliens if it were not for all the liberals and hippies getting in the way, or to go off on some rant about impending global melt down caused by greedy corporate right wingers.
The other pitfall Larson manages to dodge is not getting his ego get caught up in his hero too much. Ok, so the hero is your cliché average guy swept up by events and single handedly saves the world (several times), but he is written well enough that this feels genuine. Often, such a heroic main character just feels like the author is using the hero as an excuse to write about an idealized version of themselves, allowing their ego to explode out all over the page. Again, Swarm mercifully avoids this. – very refreshing.
All in all 3 thumbs up and I hope Larson will turn out a lot more like this.
I needed to write this review as a note about the reader William Gaminara. I know that people tend to prefer the fist reader they hear for a series and then dislike a change, but I have listened to the entire Sharpe series in both the blackstone (narrated by Fredrick Davidson) and the Chivers (narrated by William Gaminara) versions, and though I like Fredrick Davidson, William Gaminara?s reading of this series and this character, is far superior. Sharpe?s character is sympathetic, the drama is dynamic, from bravado to humility the range is covered perfectly by William Gaminara. This reading is excellent.
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