The Galactic Hegemony has been around a long time, and it likes stability–the kind of stability that member species like the aggressive, carnivorous Shongairi tend to disturb. So when the Hegemony Survey Force encountered a world whose so-called “sentients”—”humans,” they called themselves—were almost as bad as the Shongairi themselves, it seemed reasonable to use the Shongairi to neutralize them before they could become a second threat to galactic peace. And if the Shongairi took a few knocks in the process, all the better.
Now, Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity’s cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, more than half the human race has died.
Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize scattered survivors without getting killed. And in the southeastern US, firearms instructor and former Marine Dave Dvorak finds himself at the center of a growing network of resistance—putting his extended family at lethal risk, but what else can you do?
On the face of it, Buchevsky’s and Dvorak’s chances look bleak, as do prospects for the rest of the surviving human race. But it may well be that Shongairi and the Hegemony alike have underestimated the inhabitants of that strange planet called Earth…
This was a somewhat unusual story. It was not really a bad book but it was not really great either. The basic story is a classical one but one that generally works reasonably well. In this one it also has a twist at the end which not everyone seems to like but I did.
A lot of the book is fairly standard let-us-fight-the-invaders stuff, and it is well written and quite fun to read. However, it slows down from time to time in longwinded talk sessions, especially in the second half of the book. This is unfortunately something that Weber have had a (bad) habit of doing in many of his books. The concept that the (violent) humans are actually better at kicking butt than the aliens is not exactly a new concept in books but the reason behind it this time is a bit far-fetched I have to say. That the aliens should come back to Earth after 600 years and believe that we were still shooting arrows and throwing spears is somewhat ludicrous but okay, I can get over that. It was still fun to read about the aliens getting surprised followed by getting dead in a number of ways.
Then we have the surprise twist at the end. I did like it but, at the same time, it was a bit disappointing. It really came too late and when it finally came it was just too much über-guys kicks alien butt, done, end of book. This part should really have come much earlier and been given much more space in the book. As it was now, a book that could have been really fun became a fairly standard sequence of aliens invade, kick alien butt, repeat a number of times, throw out the aliens.
As I said, it is not really a bad book. It was enjoyable to read. But it is not a great book either. A lot of people on Amazon have given it a single star. Personally, I think that is unfair. It does not merit such a low rating. Unfortunately it seems that the poor reception have prevented Weber from publishing a continuation which I think is really a shame. I would have liked to read about the humans and the “other” guys to go out and knock on the aliens’ door and repay them for their little courtesy visit to earth. The stage is set for a quite interesting continuation after all.