Dark Victory (Alien Resistance)
by Brendan DuBois
Cover Artist: David Seeley
Review by Jon Guenther
Baen Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476780924
Date: 05 January 2016
List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
This was my introduction to Brendan DuBois and I have to admit on the surface I really enjoyed Dark Victory (Alien Resistance). The characters were relatively well-developed, and while the plot felt somewhat derivative on a couple of levels, the author kept me engaged with a good amount of action.
The scenes in this book were well-crafted and there was enough suspense to keep me guessing. I even had some times during the experience where I kept turning the pages, wanting to find out what happened next. The protagonist of the story is sixteen-year-old Randy Knox, a sergeant in the Recon Rangers of the New Hampshire National Guard. Randy is part of a new future society that his been at war with an alien race known merely as the "Creepers", who have invaded Earth and decimated its population centers across the globe. Simultaneously, he is trying to become something better while maintaining a romance (with a love interest who, ultimately, doesn't even factor into the main story) and while searching for his father. Oh, and his literature professor thinks he should become a writer. Basically, if one were to take the recent release of Armageddon-style novels and sprinkle them with a little Independence Day and a lot of Falling Skies, you would get the sum of the plot device. Although there is some afterthought thrown in... I think.
I could overlook the derivative story elements, but where this book did not shine for was in so many of the unanswered questions. For example, what was justification for teenagers running around fighting while attending school? There's really nothing that led me to think the majority of adults had been killed off in this ten-year war with the aliens. There seems to be a full working government and the shallow explanations for why "kids" are serving in the war (a point that's made of our main character time and again) just never really flew. There also seemed to be no reasonable explanations for why the alien technology was so superior to that of the world's armies that we wouldn't have been able to defeat them. The only explanation provided was for the actual Creepers, which are only described as aliens in some sort of bio-mechanical shells that are apparently heavily armored (or maybe shielded) and would be all but impervious if it weren't for a weakness, a proverbial chink in the armor, that can be defeated by a 10mm explosive shell. And why is our faithful hero not accompanied on his adventures by his main squeeze? Where's our love story?!
These were just a few questions that nagged at me as I read on, and while this book had a pretty good ending, it couldn't quite satisfy. I'm left with a mixed recommendation, then, as there were so many great moments of storytelling but yet a lack of hard technical science. It almost felt as if this work was published to fill the young adult market rather than based on stringent editorial standards (a surprise considering this is Baen Books).
To summarize, Dark Victory (Alien Resistance) is a pretty good yarn save for the very superficial explanations to the primordial questions of "why" and "how". It could have been so much better.
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