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Publisher's Summary

Earth arms marines with alien technology and builds its first battle fleet! Kyle Riggs is snatched by an alien spacecraft sometime after midnight. The ship is testing everyone it catches and murdering the weak. The good news is that Kyle keeps passing tests and staying alive. The bad news is the aliens who sent this ship are the nicest ones out there.

A novel of military science fiction by best-selling author B. V. Larson, Swarm is the story of Earth's annexation by an alien empire. Long considered a primitive people on a backwater planet, humanity finds itself in the middle of a war - and faced with extinction.

Battle stations! Listen to another Star Force novel.
©2010 B.V. Larson (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    864
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    252
  • 1 Stars
    125

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    3,603
  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
    534
  • 2 Stars
    78
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    42

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,842
  • 4 Stars
    2,116
  • 3 Stars
    910
  • 2 Stars
    259
  • 1 Stars
    138
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Finally some ORIGINAL scifi action.

I got this book on a whim, and I am very glad i did. I found the story to be very original and let you really use your imagination to decide what some things should look like. It wasnt filled with a bunch of technical fluff that i have found in other books. Its a very entertaining story that keeps you listening. Every time you start to wonder about a certain topic, or why is this happening, or why would they do that, the author fills you in. Its as if he knows just when you want an answer but makes you wait just a bit longer for it to keep the story going.

49 of 57 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Finally, an explanation for alien abductions!

Larson has crafted a novel twist on alien contact as well as solving the dilemma of advanced technology within a society temporally close to our own. In Swarm, alien vessels with alien advanced technology, but no aliens arrive on Earth and begin selecting, rather brutally, human candidates to pilot the ships in anticipation of future conflict with another alien enemy.

Our hero is a college computer scientist who is the most successful at deciphering a functional interaction with the alien artificial intelligence powering the spacecraft. The bulk of the tale revolves around bootstrapping a military response to a malevolent alien invasion by what appears to be a machine intelligence, intent on wiping out humanity in order to use Earth as a source of raw materials.

While some of the approaches to dealing with the alien invaders are contrived (and not well thought out), it's clear that Larson is setting up the opening salvo in what appears to a larger and longer story arch that will eventually introduce humanity to a more enlightened view of galactic politics (and lots of interstellar warfare as well).

The writing is tight and the reading is well done making for an overall easy listening experience.

41 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Tracey
  • Danville, AR, United States
  • 01-14-13

Opens great but descends into utter drek!

I read A LOT of mil scifi (Heinlein, Scalzi, Card, Campbell, Resnick, Ringo, etc) and am always looking for new books in the genre. Given the number of 4-5 star reviews for this book, I was expecting a great read. The opening was great, but it just started going downhill from there.

This really read like a YA book, or perhaps even a book based on a video game (but, I have read better entries in that genre.)

The characters were utterly 2-dimensional, dialogue subpar, and plot plodding. I was hoping that this volume would be redeemed by some good space battles, but I found those wanting.

**********************spoiler alert**************************************

The development of the protagonist is preposterous. He goes from "work-from-home" college professor to dynamic military strategist in just a few chapters. His early stages of grief went from denial to anger to lust within minutes of his children's grisly deaths. And the half-naked female sidekick's "oh, this ship has good taste" within days of that same ship killing her had me thinking this book was written by a teenager.

I only paid $4.95 for this book, but I still feel I overspent -- and I wish had those hours of listening time back for a more worthy listen. Downloading "Earth Strike: Star Carrier" by Ian Douglas now and hoping it will help clean my mental palate.

70 of 87 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The Six Million Dollar Man

The very beginning of this reminds me of the game Portal. Then it becomes kind of (early) Heinleinist. It ends with the Six Million Dollar Man.

The story concept is really good and will keep you listening, even at the times when the writing falters.

Problems: At the beginning the main characters' kids are killed and in a very gross way. His reaction is very lacking. Parts of the book sound like something Piers Anthony would write. We are given information on his wife's death, which was kind of gross and which adds nothing to the story. He is a college professor who teaches computer science and this seems to give him the ability to lead armies, design weapons, be a diplomat and be a military strategist. I believe those that have trained in the military all there life will be insulted by this.

Good: The story is creative. It kept my attention as the miles I was driving just melted by. I have never heard of the (Hope Monkey) before, but I will always remember it. The length of the book is perfect. The ending makes you want to buy the rest in the series.

The narrator was ok, but after listening to Ray Porter and Dick Hill, he was a little lack luster.

49 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Alex
  • FPO, AP, United States
  • 10-27-11

John Ringo sans the crazy politics...

Mr. Larson's book reminds me a great deal of John Ringo's earlier works, those written before he began letting his politics into his writing (Read: Let the crazy out), the series has a really nice premise and the action is well thought out. In fact, My only issues with the book are:

1) Mr. Larson likes to repeat himself a great deal:
He'll say something once, then again, then spend two pages pounding it into your cranium until you want to yell "Alright! I understood you the first time now can we please see the damn thing blow up now!" I do not mind long explanations of say 'the social impacts of alien tech', but come the hell on!, it began to feel he was pushing for word count rather then advancing the story line.

2) Tactics, tactics, tactics!:
I understand the main character is a college professor but, many of the secondary characters are supposed to be military professionals and you can't tell me that a Colonel or even a Sargent with years of experience on the guy wouldn't tell the nerdy self appointed 'commander' to pack sand if he ordered them to assault a position, over open ground mind you, where a superior enemy holds the high ground. And there is a word for any officer whom takes 6 companies of Marines into battle and suffers 90% losses in a engagement and that word is 'Fired.' I don't care if your the savior of the world your would not lead men into battle after that no one would trust you to.

3) Characters:
(Deleted to brevity) (I'm talking to the author now)
STOP BUILDING CARICATURES AND START CREATING CHARACTERS.
Come on the psychopathic Latin sex bomb? NEWSFLASH! Women like that don't really exist. (No matter how much you want them to)
The dumb enlisted man and the elitist officer? Really?!?

I'm probably going to buy the next book in this series. The story is interesting despite the above drawbacks and the author seems to be getting better at his craft.

41 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Just don't care...

What disappointed you about Swarm?

Most of it. It's got some decent sci-fi in it but never really makes you care that much. So much of the action takes place inside a windowless ship. I didn't buy many of the plot twists including the very concept of "Star Force."

What do you think your next listen will be?

More Patrick Rothfuss

What about Mark Boyett’s performance did you like?

He actually did a great job.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Swarm?

***Spoiler alert****Probably would not have the kids murdered. It's just so hard to believe that someone could lose 2 kids in a brutal murder and then go on to think about getting a couch or having a new sexual partner within a few days/weeks.

Any additional comments?

Comments saying this is the best thing since Star Wars are just ridiculous.

I stopped listening with many hours to go because I just didn't care what happened to any of the characters or the story.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • SteveK
  • The Woodlands, Texas
  • 05-10-12

Wrong on so many levels

Would you try another book from B. V. Larson and/or Mark Boyett?

Not likely. I thought the overall story concept sounded interesting, but quickly became absurd. A computer programmer leading the Fleet....really? The main character is an incredibly arrogant jerk. I developed an intense dislike of him. I'd downloaded books 1 & 2 for a long road trip but gave up halfway through book two. (Go Worms!)

Which character – as performed by Mark Boyett – was your favorite?

None really lived long enough. We're introduced to dozens of likable characters quickly killed off by "Admiral" Kyle's stupidity.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Swarm?

So many to choose from...probably the scene of Kyle lusting after a women moments after his kids are shredded to bits. What a prick.

26 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Adolescent - and I don't mean YA

It is absolutely nothing like what I expected. I thought it was a military sci-fi where they battle space aliens. Oh... well... technically, it is a military sci-fi where they battle space aliens. But it feels more like a college boy's fantasy than anything that might come close to what would really happen in such a situation.

I'm all for new and novel ideas. I like the concept of the aliens, and how the ships arrived, and what the humans had to do, and how they fought the aliens at the end of the novel but... and it's a big but... the characterizations were absolutely ridiculous. A college professor ends up saving the world because he is smarter than everyone else... sure, okay, I can deal with that. But... a guy watches his kids die, tries to save them and is all agitated about if they will survive and then, voila! problem solved by the entrance of a nude woman. Yep... naked woman solves all problems just by appearing in the story - and then no more whining and hair-tearing over the little issue of his dead children.

Sure, a couple times while his is stealing furniture and complaining about his lack of decorating options, and fantasizing about having a cold beer, he thinks of his dead children, but only in passing... after all, nearly 2 whole days have passed.

And I won't even get into the other space ship captain and the earth responses to the situation - after all we know that a college professor knows more and is smarter than the entire forces of every country on earth - it's not like any nation would have experienced trained military leaders and/or technical geniuses that these brand new captains could rely on.

But... to be honest... the single biggest issue - which has probably tainted my entire review - is that women in this book have about the same value and intelligence as a beer. And if there was a blow up doll on board, I'm pretty sure the cold beer would be worth more.

34 of 46 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Brent
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 10-10-11

Great read

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.

17 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

great man vs. machine opening shot

Any additional comments?

i'm a casual scifi reader. i've read a few, but scifi is usually my 3rd stop when looking for something new. i like standalone books, but i'm drawn to series. i was drawn to this book based on the plot, number of reviews, and the high ratings. so, i gave it a try, and i'm glad i did.

i've read hard scifi and military scifi where you really have to pay attention or rewind to get it. the alien technology in this book easily makes sense since nanotechnology has become so mainstream the last few years. the tech is cool, and you can see how it works, and the potential benefits. the tech makes sense so you can understand how our hero uses it.

speaking of our hero, riggs, he is a college professor. he teaches computer science. this is a cool twist b/c you can see how he interacts with the aliens. i'm not giving anything away by saying the aliens are machines. it's fascinating to witness riggs learn how manipulate the machines' programming to answer his questions and accomplish his goals. i write code all day long for work, but you don't need to understand programming to understand and enjoy riggs' interaction and manipulation of the machines' code.

the story opens with riggs being abducted by a spaceship in the middle of the night. i won't give much away, but riggs eventually gains control of the ship. he learns that over 700 other ships have been scouring the earth looking for "the right kind of people." just as riggs and the others start to gain some semblance of understanding what's going on and how to manipulate their ships, their ships take off into outer space declaring enemy detected. the enemy is another group of machines, who riggs names the macros. they are after earth's resources.

this book has battles in space and on the earth. the macros are cold, heartless, and relentless, just as you would expect. there's a lot of plotting and in-fighting between the earth's forces even as the macros attack and slaughter millions.

the battle scenes are well drawn out and smartly done. the space battles are a match of wits; whereas the earth-based are battles of attrition.

the book is fast-paced and enjoyable with a touch of mystery. the review, mark, puts it perfectly, " Its a very entertaining story that keeps you listening. Every time you start to wonder about a certain topic, or why is this happening, or why would they do that, the author fills you in. Its as if he knows just when you want an answer but makes you wait just a bit longer for it to keep the story going."

note: mark, i hope you don't get pissed that i quote you, but you put it so aptly.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Londongirl
  • 05-26-17

Such a shame

Really liked the narrator and the story was well paced. Unfortunately spoiled by very dated storyline and some poor writing. It reads more like 1950s science fiction with very limited imagination. Very big plot holes (no clues where the spaceships come from or why & the science is plain silly) and a shockingly callous & 2 dimensional attitude from the professor lead character. Perving over some conveniently half naked nubile Latino student ten minutes after the violent death of his kids? Really? I would not recommend unless you are really in the mood for truly mindless entertainment.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Neil
  • 12-23-12

Flight of the Navigator for adults

Exciting within the first 5minutes and sets up a world that is gonna force me to spend all my credits til I've listened to them all. Narrator has great voice and tells it well. No two characters come across the same. To me, that is the difference between a good narrator and a great one.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr
  • 09-21-15

great first book

Great first book. great story. like all the bv larsons books so far. looking forward to book 2

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • 04-11-14

Good start but needs work

This was an enjoyable listen and one that I would recommend but it is not without some flaws and quibbles which are relatively minor and don't detract too much from the main story. There are a couple of issues around the logic of the nanos and macros and with the nano ship Alamo's behaviour but nothing terrible.

The biggest weakness of the story is the character development. The main lead character generally behaves in a believable manner and is a likeable character that you can follow and get behind. Most of the other characters in the story though are quite thin with little developed between the main character and them. The main female character has some potential at the beginning when they meet on the ship and when she is recovered but this is pretty much wasted as she falls into a rather simple adoring female role that borders on the uncomfortable. And, here is where the story falters the worst, with dialog and behaviour that while possible in the situation they are in seems a bit wrong footed. There were a couple of times where I thought the author was going to go into a full blown sex scene but fortunately the author restrained themselves and didn't veer into trying to write erotica or porn.

Overall the novel moved along and you are able to develop a fondness for the lead character and a desire to read the next novel to see what happens to him and the universe he resides in. Hopefully, as the story advances so will will the writing and character development.

The narrator did a good job and was able to convey the story well and create character voices that you were able to associate with the various characters.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ashley
  • 05-09-15

Excellent

Really good. hooked straight away. A good fast progression. brilliant sifi idea. b.v larson legend

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sharon
  • 05-12-14

Swarm - I want to join up!

Would you listen to Swarm again? Why?

I really enjoyed this introduction to the Star Force series. I'd relisten to it again but I'm just enjoying the second book at the moment!

What did you like best about this story?

The details of the life aboard the ships and how the commanders learn to control the ships. Also, although it was military sci fi, the background details were excellent, how people lived and learnt to deal with day to day life.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Some of the planning of the battles, the logic for how things were worked out.

Any additional comments?

This was an excellent introduction to a series I think I'm going to love. Depth of characters and details of battle strategies made this a brilliant choice.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • se
  • 09-23-15

Took a risk!

What did you like most about Swarm?

Never been a fan of this genre before, however this was different.
I found it hard to guess what was coming next most of the time, which I enjoyed.
Going to try the next book.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Mark Boyett?

Yes

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • lohads
  • 07-03-15

Good story

Good story hope the rest are as good.
Another good book by B. V. Larson 😀

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lawrence
  • 05-04-15

Another gripping Sc-fi from Larson

Listened to Larson's Undying Mercenaries series first, and some of the broader ideas seemed to have been copied from these earlier books. But that did not subtract from the thrilling story in swarm. Hooked now!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Leon
  • 02-10-15

Original idea

Great book can't wait for my next credit to get the next in series, I like the really original idea

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-27-14

Good old fashion B grade action

Where does Swarm rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top 20/100

Would you recommend Swarm to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes. It is just honest fun.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Was a while back but probably where he got abducted.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laugh.

Any additional comments?

If you like military Sci Fi, it is hard to go past this New Yorker author. Thanks BV.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Dean
  • 11-05-16

elevate the mediocre because of happenstance

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Not a whole lot to be honest. The main character isn't smart, resourceful, or particularly charismatic. He just wants to be in charge and makes rookie decisions that for the sake of the story work out and make him look like a tactical genius.

What will your next listen be?

Don't know

Did Mark Boyett do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

I like him for the sci-fi story narrations, but the book just lacks a lot.

What character would you cut from Swarm?

The main character.

Any additional comments?

Not really, i managed to finish it but more because i didn't have anything to do.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MR
  • 07-31-16

Great Story

Well thought out story, plenty of action. Earth becomes involved in war with two different Alien forces.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Paul Whitfield
  • 07-24-16

Awful

Would you try another book written by B. V. Larson or narrated by Mark Boyett?

Mark Boyett, yes
B V Larson, no...

What could B. V. Larson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The is very little to recommend this book. The characters were steretypical cardboard cut outs and much of the action made no sense.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Thesle
  • 03-07-16

Larson provides compelling tales

Larson writes an action story that controls you to keep going. The only problem is that one you start on this book you will have a long wish list as it is not a short trilogy but an active series.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-04-16

good story flows nicely and has a proper ending.

good story flows nicely and has a proper ending with a good hook to read the next book. the performance was good nice accents. you don't often get Australian characters in these stories nice touch.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark Vyner-Smith
  • 03-04-16

Good popcorn

What did you like most about Swarm?

Okay look, this series is great. It's not ever going to be classic literature or even classic sci-fi, but it's entertaining military sci-fi. It would actually make a great film or mini-series though.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Swarm?

I'm not going to spoil it, but so far I've listened to 5 books in this series, and I liked them all.

Have you listened to any of Mark Boyett’s other performances? How does this one compare?

The reader's calm confident voice captures the story well.

Any additional comments?

Some of the characters aside from the main character aren't really fleshed out. You could argue that this is because the main character just doesn't think about them all that much. I'd be interested to see a re-telling of this story from a female perspective though...

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Adam
  • 07-24-15

An enjoyable story that at times keep u thinking

Down to earth scifi book that keeps you guessing what will happen next - I look forward to the other stories!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • GARRY
  • 06-15-15

A good start

It's a good start to a sci fi series I am only new to looking forward to the rest of the series