Alien Invasion Books Military Science Fiction Young Adult

Starwarden – An improvement over the first book in the series

StarwardenStarwarden (Almek Manning, #2) by J.A. Dalley
My rating: 6 out of 10 stars

Almek Manning survived the first part of his military training at the Solar Fleet’s boot camp, and now he must face the rigor of life at the Academy. Meanwhile, the cease-fire between the Solar Fleet and the United Monarchy of Europe is becoming increasingly fragile, and Almek has began to wonder if he can finish his education quickly enough to help fight the war… However, Sky Marshal Kitt, Jack Dalton, and High Admiral Numair have plans for the young midshipman and Almek’s choices may yet decide the outcome of the war.

As I said in my review of the previous book in the Almek Manning series, I was going to read the second book even though I was not exactly thrilled with the first one since I thought that, despite the faults, the story was kind of interesting and I wanted to see where the author went with the it.

In my personal opinion this book was an improvement over the previous one. This could of course be partly because some of the elements of the plot that doesn’t sit too well with me, like the European Monarchy, are no longer a surprise. However I also feel the author sits a bit more firmly in the saddle as far as his writing goes. This is especially true for the second half of the book.

The books are quite short as you can see from the fact that I finished both books in two days. As with the previous book I think the author could spend some more time on some of the details. Some things just happen in a sentence or two. I realize that sometimes one would want to achieve a surprise effect as well but the current length of the books could benefit from some a wee bit more details.

Obviously some not so likable elements of this book series was really established with the first book such as this silly European Monarchy but also the entire concept that Earth should be in a planetary civil war while we are at the same time being attacked by aliens and even risk being annihilated is just…wrong. The fact that it is led by what appears to be the former European Union, the most consensus-based organization around, but one which never really arrives at a useful consensus at anything and thus never could decide to go to war, is only adding to the “wrongness”. I really hope that the author solves this in the near future. That is really a bit where I do not need much details, except possibly for the liberation of Almek’s former friends from London which I also hope will come. Otherwise just roll over this abomination of a monarchy and be done with it.

The book heats up quite a bit, especially at the end, and there is a fair amount of action, which I like. New species are added as friends as well as foes a bit left, right and center. Again, this is where I could actually do with a bit more detail. In general some things are just done a bit too simplistically. Like the “McGyver alien” that manages to convert their antimatter gun to…, well I will not spoil the book by saying what but to something at least, in the heat of the battle.

As with the previous book, the uber-kid Almek still gets promoted way too fast for it to be realistical. Okay it is fiction and, whether it was the intention of the author or not, the book clearly sits in the young adult segment where these rapid advancements are quite common. The books of Saxon Andrews often exhibit the same rocket advancements for instance. In the authors defense he did include a part about the Sky Admiral not being happy of this rapid advancement and wanting someone more experienced on the post.

In all, I would say that this book was a more enjoyable reading than the first. It didn’t make me go all “wow” but it was enjoyable and I do not think I will have seconds thoughts about getting the next book when it comes out.

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