Earth Awakens (The First Formic War)
by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Macmillan Audio Audio CD ISBN/ITEM#: 9781427241016
Date: 10 June 2014 List Price $44.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Earth Awakens is the third novel in a prequel trilogy to the Ender series by Orson Scott Card. It's great and full of suspense, in-depth characters and action. The citizens of Earth must work together to save their civilization and their planet from the Formic Invasion.
I thoroughly enjoyed Earth Awakens, by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. The short version of the plot is that the Formics, an alien species that looks like ants, have arrived on Earth and are killing all people and vegetation so that they can start over with their own society. Earth Awakens is the third novel in a trilogy. In the first two, the Formic alien spaceship arrived in Earth orbit, and the Fromics sent three giant structures, called Landers, to Earth that serve as their bases. At the end of the second novel, a military force called the MOPS, or Mobile Operations Police, managed to destroy one of the Landers.
Now, for more details -- ** SPOILERS FOLLOW:.
I don't think I am spoiling the plot when I say that the Earth wins and destroys the Formic invaders at the end of the Earth Awakens. The method is the story of this trilogy. Earth Awakens, in fact the whole trilogy, has three plot lines. The plot lines overlap a great deal, so I will try to explain them here.
Victor is a young man from a family mining ship named El Cavador in the asteroid belt. His family encountered the Formics earlier in the trilogy as the Formics were travelling to Earth. In an earlier novel, Victor travelled to Luna, or the moon, in a cargo vessel. Victor had information on the Formics and was prepared to warn the Earth, but he was quickly ignored and considered a criminal. He meets a customs inspector named Imala, who is an American Indian woman living on Luna. In Earth Awakens, Victor and Imala travel to the Formic ship and Victor sneaks aboard to gather intelligence for a future attack. They are supported by a billionaire businessman named Lem Jukes. Victor and Imala are also part of the landing party that captures the Formic Ship at the end of Earth Awakens. A sub-plot of Victor's plot line is the women and children of El Cavador that were evacuated prior to the battle between El Cavador and the Formics in the asteroid belt. The survivors end up living and working on a salvage ship still in the asteroid belt. Neither Victor nor the family knows that the other is alive until late in the novel when they manage to reconnect.
Lem Jukes is both the good guy and the bad guy in this series. He is the son of Ukko Jukes, who leads the largest and most powerful mining corporation on Earth named Jukes, Limited. Earlier in the series, Lem was the captain of a research space ship in the asteroid belt where he encountered Victor's ship, El Cavador. There is bad blood between Victor and Lem as Lem's ship and Victor's ship attacked the Formic vessel in a previous novel after Victor had left for Luna. Victor's family's ship was destroyed, but Lem's ship survived and returned to Luna. Lem is also the good guy because he supports Victor and Imala, and later the MOPS invasion force, using his large personal fortune and the industrial and engineering resources of his portion of Jukes, Ltd. Lem and his father Ukko have a love/hate relationship that I still can't figure out even after reading all three novels, but between the two of them and Jukes, Ltd, they manage to provide the resources to defeat the Formics, but not without personal gains and profit for Jukes, Ltd.
The third plot line is about a super elite fighting force called the Mobil Operations Police, or MOPS. They are international and go to places on Earth that need military help, do their business and get out. They fight various stages of the Formic War throughout the trilogy. They are also affiliated with a New Zealand Army officer named Mazer Rackham. Rackham is not one of the MOPS, but he ends up fighting with their team. Mazer is the leader of the group that destroys the Formic Lander at the end of the second novel. Although a New Zealander, Mazer is the good old American boy-next-door. He is physically gifted and tactically smart, but he also has a human side. He is badly injured in the second novel and is rescued by a young Chinese orphan named Bingwen and his grandfather. Bingwen also becomes a major character. He is only eight years old, but he is a wiz kid at computers, and since he is the only one who speaks native Chinese and the local dialect, he is able to help the MOPS team gather and transmit information. Mazer helps Bingwen enroll in an elite military academy in Earth Awakens before heading to the Formic ship.
Mazer and his team, including Victor and Imala, head to the Formic space ship to eradicate the Formics and keep the ship to pirate its technology. Of course Jukes, Ltd will use the technology, so all three plots intertwine quite well.
The publishers sent me the Audio book of Earth Awakens to review in addition to the novel. In short, I loved it. The audio book is performed by numerous readers and actors. They keep the suspense moving. I have already talked about the final battle on aboard the Formic ship and the audio is riveting during the final battle. It would make a good action movie too, and I suppose contract talks are in the works for that somewhere. The emotional scenes between Victor and Imala, Lem and Ukko Jukes, and Mazer, Bingwen and Mazerís girlfriend Kim are performed well too.
I loved Earth Awakens and I highly recommend it. In fact, I recommend all three in the trilogy, Earth Unaware, Earth Afire and Earth Awakens. There is plenty of background information to start with Earth Awakens, but why deny yourself a good thing? I had audio books of all three novels too, and they are great. Whether print or audio makes you happy, I recommend the trilogy.