A down-and-out history professor leads a team of old friends to virtual glory as the first-ever group to beat Mako Assault, a revolutionary new game that has emerged from nowhere to take the online world by storm. As a reward for their achievement, and under the guise of publicity, the group is flown to meet the game’s mysterious designer, only to learn that Mako’s intent was never to entertain its players… but rather to train them.
An epic science fiction thrill ride of action, suspense, laughter, and romance; MAKO is the story of five ordinary people rising to the challenge of extraordinary events, driven only by their faith in each other.
This is an interesting and enjoyable book. The basic idea of the story, that is a video game actually being a recruitment facility made by aliens and the recruits will embark on an interstellar adventure, is not exactly new. It smells a lot of The Last Starfighter (which I quite liked when I watched it a long time ago) for example. That is not to say that it is a rip-off. The game in this story is actually a virtual reality training facility, which for reasons that where really not very clear to me, was tested on Earth. In any case, I did like the story.
I did indeed like the book. It is the kind of story that I generally like, the book was reasonably well written and the characters were quite likable. That is not to say that it was without faults. There are a few of them that drags down the overall impression. A few people that have reviewed the book complains about the lack of understanding of physics in space that the author exhibits. It is true that there are some idiotic statements like wings folding in and out on the fighters…in space? The author even uses words like “capsizing” in relation to space ships. That is just dumb of course. However, in my opinion, it is not as bad as some reviewers makes it look. I can live with that.
There are a few other unbelievable parts of the story, like these people who have just learned to master FTL flight by reverse engineering another race’s technology and then later claims to have been jumping between galaxies for 40 years looking for planets to colonize (yet they did not find Earth in their own galaxy during those 40 years). The concept that humans should have evolved in separate places in the Universe with identical DNA and pretty much at the same time is also a bit far fetched. The author should have had someone with a bit more skills in biology and physics read through the book before releasing it.
Personally I would consider the above as minor issues though. It is a fiction book after all. My main issue with the book is that it is somewhat uneven in pace. Every now and then it digs itself down in lengthy conversations between the members of professor Lee’s team. Often it weaves in some back flash to their previous lives and it is just too much talk, talk, talk. Those parts quickly gets downright boring.
However, overall I have to say that it is an enjoyable book. The story is nice and so are the characters. You really feel that you want to follow them through the story. The book ends, not in a cliffhanger, but definitely with some unfinished business. If another one comes out I will surely pick it up to see where things go. Now that the main plot element of this book, the surprise of being whisked away to the stars, is used up I wonder which direction the author intends to go? I personally would not mind seeing them going back to Earth and spring the “we are not alone” surprise on a few people.