Planetside was a very impressive military sci-fi debut.
I’m actually surprised that so few people I know (close to zero) are talking about Planetside this year. Seriously, Harper Voyager and reviewers really should’ve advertised this book more, it’s a fantastic debut and if it weren’t for my friend, Niki Hawkes, I wouldn’t have heard about this gem at all.
The plot in Planetside revolves around Colonel Butler, a war hero in semi-retirement as he received a mission from an old and powerful friend to go back to a war zone in order to find a high councilor’s son who went MIA. Although Planetside is labeled as a military sci-fi, the execution of the storyline was more mystery oriented; think of it as a mystery detective story in a sci-fi novel. The storytelling involved a lot of fast-paced investigation and Intel gathering more than action sequences; they never fail to keep me guessing and intrigued. It’s not a long book, it took me roughly four hours to read and I was thoroughly entertained. However, I did have a minor issue with the ending. Don’t get me wrong, it was great, thought-provoking, and quite powerful, but at the same time I also found it to be a bit anti-climactic because after all the incredible momentum building towards the moment, it ended a bit too fast for my liking; I wish there was one or two more chapter to explore the aftermath to make the lasting impression of the ending even stronger.
The characters were great. The narration didn’t actually explore Butler’s characterizations as in-depth as most books I usually read but his characterizations were well conveyed throughout his dialogues and actions; this makes Mammay an efficient storyteller that tells an effective and fast-paced story without neglecting the personality and motivations of the characters. Butler, for example, was utterly a no bullshit type of character, he and all the side characters behaved like true soldiers and it was really obvious that Mammay knows what he’s talking about here. Military structure, actions, weaponry, and attitudes; I’ve heard that the author has served as a solder and the knowledge he gained from it was crystal clear evident in every aspect of this book.
Mammay’s prose was simple, sharp, and highly accessible. There are no super hard sci-fi jargons here, I envision that as long that you’re not a stranger to the genre, you will be able to enjoy and understand everything in this book. There were only one action sequences near the end of the book but it was superbly tension-packed. As I said before, the mystery detective element of the book was more dominant but whether it’s the mystery or the actions, everything was more than enough to keep me fully engaged with the novel.
Planetside was crafted as if the main purpose of it was to keep the readers hooked and it did its job splendidly. Immersive, fast-paced, smartly written, and imbued with every element of a wonderful page-turner; Planetside is a sci-fi debut you don’t want to miss. I totally recommend this book to everyone who’s looking for a great mystery detective story in a military sci-fi environment.
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