Every now and then I come across a book so good that if I have checked it out from the library I refuse to return it until I own a copy; if it is part of a sequence (trilogy, quintology, whatever) I cannot rest until I own all the books in the sequence. This is one of those books. And on the surface it shouldn't be.
It's aimed at teenage males. I'm a 73-year-old woman.
It is described as horror. I dislike horror.
It has a strong military element. I dislike military fiction.
So why did I fall in love with it?
This book and the whole sequence concern themselves with honor and courage, and these are traits I strongly admire and identify with.
Furthermore, the writing is skillful, with no wrong words to jerk the reader out of the story. It is both plot-driven and character-driven. The elements that create willing suspension of disbelief are all present. The voice is skillfully done, showing Matt Archer as having both normal teenage problems and incipient burnout from unending combat. How is a child to come back from killing monsters, armed only with a knife, and seeing comrades killed and eaten, to high school bullying, girlfriend problems, and boring teachers?
Highley makes it work. My hat is off to her. I wish I had written this book, but I am totally incapable of doing this kind of writing.