My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I finished this book a few months ago, but have been sitting on this review because I have such mixed feelings about it. I settled on 4 stars because it is written just as well as the other books in the series, but where this one fell short for me was in the likability of the main character.
Stan Resnick is a Special Forces operative in a war that has brought Big Brother out into the open across the world as nations fight tooth and nail for the last natural resources and best military technology. After his wife gives him one of the rawest of deals, all he has left is his job as a mercenary out in the jungle, where Big Brother can’t watch his every move. His best friend is the A.I. in his specially designed suit and the guy he has to work with is a product of Big Brother.
The action and in-your-face brutality is as top-notch as the first two books, and has some unforgettable futuristic battle scenarios (jungle battles with flame throwers vs. invisible, metallic dogs anyone?). The series has built up showing us more about the abilities of these advanced soldiers, and T.C. doesn’t disappoint in showing the ferocity and stealthiness of the chimeras. I was a little disappointed in the ending not having a more full-scale war, but that isn’t what this story is about, nor is this the end of T.C.’s stories in this world.
T.C. has a tremendous gift in writing a cohesive character arc that builds toward a powerful ending. The raw deal that happens to him at the beginning of the story involves an innocent boy. Stan’s character arc is of a man who just wants to get lost in the jungle and hunt the abominable genetics, but when he realizes that forsaking his mission could ruin that innocent boy’s life, he has to put his needs second before he loses his mind. I really liked this about him. My likability concern was that during the story he makes a lot of despicable and selfish decisions, and those were hard to root for him through. Yes you’re reading in hopes of him making the right decision in the end, but it takes a while and wasn’t always something I had to read. The other two books had flawed characters, but they were more engaging (maybe because they were less selfish). I liked how this story explored life in the U.S., and really opened up the consequences of this war on non-military people. This aspect of the story was well-placed because of the added burden it placed on Stan to fight for others.
T.C.’s first book, Germline, was one of the best books, if not the best, I’ve ever read, so to say that I didn’t like this one as much isn’t really very critical. Reading other people’s reviews and seeing them say this book was their favorite shows that you have a very talented writer who tells three different stories through three different people, but who are all linked to this war and their inability to escape the addiction that war created in them. The philosophical depth to their turmoil is also relevant enough to make their journeys life changing for ordinary people who prefer reading about future wars than having to suffer through the realities that would kill them before sunset. In the case of T.C.’s Subterrene War series, I felt every cut and tear. I loved being able to experience that without having to endure the permanence of their scars.
Science Fiction Novels I’ve Reviewed:
Germline (Subterrene War: Book One) by T.C. McCarthy
Exogene (Subterrene War: Book Two) by T.C. McCarthy
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
Nexus by Ramez Naam
Haywire by Justin Macumber
Acts of the Apostles by John F.X. Sundman
Legendary Space Pilgrims by Grace Bridges
Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
Science Fiction Short Fiction: