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Reviews Literature / Out Of The Dark

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09/15/2011 02:04:41 •••

Not too bad, but it suffers in the pacing department.

I kind of enjoyed this book, but I wouldn't put it on a recommendation list. The twist ending didn't really throw me. Not compared to plot holes like the assertion that most Class Two cultures had more nukes than humanity despite typically having a unified world state and a mentality that the weak did not fight the strong. (I mean why develop nukes if that's the case?) Or how a galactic Hegemony could exist as an institution if it can't operate faster than a multi-century timescale. Or Critical Research Failure on the robustness of humanity's electronic infrastructure. But I can simply chant the MST3K Mantra and get past all that.

No, the real flaw in the book was pacing — particularly all the hardware porn. I couldn't give a flip about comparing the muzzle velocity and weight of different ammo or the variations in load-out on various vehicles. Just get to blowing aliens up, already! In fact, I found myself more than once hoping the sections with the humans would end soon so that I could be back to reading the Shongairi trying to make sense of the quagmire they got themselves into. They were by far the most interesting characters in the story.

Pacing then swung to the other extreme in the last few chapters, where the shock of the twist was overshadowed by how rushed it felt compared to the stuttering pace of the earlier parts of the book. It's like his heart wasn't in it as much as gun-fondling.

That said, it's still a hard, military SF book at heart, and it's not too bad of a story of independent, resourceful badasses fighting back against an alien invasion that fails due to improper enemy military doctrine. Weber could've just stood to cut down on the loving, show-off descriptions of survival preparation and military hardware and get to the action and the human & alien drama more.

Plus, it would've been nice if the twist had come a couple of chapters earlier and we'd gotten to see more vampire ass-kicking rather than it all being an off-camera plot device. We're asked, "What Do You Mean Its Not Awesome?" and then never really shown much of it being awesome outside of one fight. It's revealed and then, "Bam!" — denouement and winding down. That leaves it feeling tacked on and Shyamalan-esque.


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