Friday, 6 November 2015
War Dogs (War Dogs Book 1) - Greg Bear
Title: War Dogs (War Dogs Book 1)
Author: Greg Bear
“War Dogs” by Greg Bear is the first book in a promised Science Fiction trilogy. The story is set at a time after Earth has been visited by aliens called the Gurus who have offered humans access to new technology. However, the Gurus are being followed by another alien race known as the Antags and soon humans are being called upon to fight against these aggressors. Within this world is Michael Venn, a Skyrine (Space Based Marine) who is sent to Mars to fight the Antags and it is his story on his final drop that we follow.
The novel starts off very much as a standard war story with the reader witnessing a military drop that doesn’t go to plan. This rather unoriginal plot point is then supported by a cliché inner monologue that is full of references and thoughts that readers of this genre have probably seen a million times before. It was still interesting enough and I did like the fact that it had a very chaotic feeling which really highlighted the fact that the drop hadn’t gone to plan but it was just so lacking in originality.
In the 2nd half of the novel however, things take a bit of a curve ball with Venn and his comrades discovering a "Drifter", a sort of cave that contained various metals, water and even air. At this point the novel kind of morphs into a rather intriguing mystery as the exploration of the “Drifter” results in multiple surprises and unknowns being uncovered via a series or at times rather confusing flashbacks. The plot slows quite considerably here and whilst I understand why this happened, it did result in me taking almost double the time to read the second half than it took to read the first. This slowdown was accentuated by the fact that I found myself getting frustrated as we never seem to get any real answers to any of the mysteries. Then there is the ending itself which is quite abrupt and gives the reader no real closure on anything. In fact it screams to me that the publisher has pretty much just split a longish book into two or more to create this trilogy.
Overall, this isn’t a bad book exactly; it does have some interesting elements and the exploration of the drifter and its mysteries did have me thoroughly intrigued. However, the mixture of uninspired, clichéd plot points alongside a mystery that fails to deliver any rewards to the reader meant that it wasn’t as enjoyable as it probably could have been. I suspect I will still read the sequel as I would like to see some answers to the mysteries revealed; it is just that a standalone novel this one isn’t the most satisfying.