This was my first experience reading Arenson. I’m solidly impressed with what he’s done here, both with the story premise and how I felt in the end about wanting to read on in the series.
The blurb says this is an ideal fit for fans of Ender’s Game and Starship Troopers. I agree. Earth Alone delivers on the sense of camaraderie that builds in a boot camp setting, while empathizing with the difficult scenarios that brought each member. The main character has a strong love triangle situation going, and while Earth Alone is not a romance, you feel for the young man being a bit of a romantic, and getting his heart broken once or twice along the way. We have plenty going for it as the series builds off book two in this regard, but more so in the aspect of him learning to be a soldier. I don’t want to spoil the transformation, so I’ll just say Arenson did a great job with this character and making me want to root for him in subsequent books.
The premise is a good one for fans of alien invasion and military science fiction. The aliens that invaded fifty years ago pushed Earth’s buttons, and got nuked pretty bad because of it. The strategy shifted to more of a death by a thousand cuts approach, where they send advance troops that land like meteors, can infect people with hideous and sterilizing diseases, and can certainly kill hundreds at a time before they’re taken down. This takes our main character, who would rather read and write his life away in the comfort of peace, and forces him into war. I really empathized with him in this. I have so much admiration for our service members for doing what I don’t and can’t. Well, our main character doesn’t have that freedom to avoid the sacrifices and struggle to come in the war he’ll be thrown into, and I admired seeing not only how he reacted, but also how Arenson crafted his story.
There’s a sense looking back on books like Starship Troopers, Ender’s Game, and more modern examples like Germline and Quarter Share that books this good, and the authors who write them, are hard to find. I believe Earth Share is one of those books, and seeing how prolific Arenson is encourages me of the many more stories I’ll have to enjoy.
The narration by Jeffrey Kafer is as always a rock solid contribution to audiobook loving military science fiction. This guy keeps getting gigs for a good reason, and I’m glad to see him joining this project.
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If you’d like a steal of 23 new novels at 99 cents, and my next book, Ultras, a Military SF of its own flavor, check out the Dominion Rising box set, out on August 8th.