This was a pretty fantastic book. I mean, obviously, since I’m writing this review. You’ve probably noticed by now that I don’t generally write reviews for books that I’m “meh” about.
The writing style of this book was particularly amusing. The protagonist tells the story as though he’s recounting a tale, complete with asides to the reader, which I found pretty fantastic. And the introduction of Skippy was absolutely amazing – the book flew by once that happened.
I can’t really talk more about this book without starting to spoil things, so here we go!
I feel like this was basically two different books in one. Part I of the book details the invasion of Earth, and Earth’s response to it; and Part II is SKIPPY-TOWN!
I loved Skippy-Town haha. Yeah sure, it’s kind of cheating to introduce an AI that’s smarter than all the other species in the book combined to help out protagonist, but the way he interacts with everyone, especially Bishop, our protagonist, is extremely well done.
Several times, it’s shown that Skippy is not in fact omnisicent / omnipotent. He just is very smart, and doesn’t think the way that we do. For instance, he can totally take over a Thurasian star carrier by himself, but he forgets that we meat bags can’t survive in vacuum. Whoops haha.
But more importantly, the way the author wrote Skippy’s personality was AMAZING. One liners here and there and everywhere. The banter between him and Bishop MAKES the story, especially when you contrast it to the interactions between him and other people in the story. I especially liked the poignant moment where he describes why he and Bishop get along so well – namely, that Bishop is the only person who’s treated him as an equal rather than a machine. And his illustration of that point? That Bishop constantly calls him out and points out that he is an asshole. TROLLOLOL.
Once he enters the story, the game sort of becomes a videogame, where Bishop, as the antagonist, gets to play almost on God mode. Skippy can disable weapons (except the Lizard weapons), and take over entire starships. That’s cool.
Ordinarily, that would be really hard to write in a way that keeps the audience interested, because how interesting is it really to go around murdering everyone when they don’t really have a chance?
But the author did a great job here as well, introducing tension by showing that the good guys can indeed get hurt *and die*, even with God mode enabled. So kudos to that.
I loved every bit of Skippy-town. He made the story for me.
Oh, right, I said there was a Part I to this saga, right? Despite the amusingness of Part II (Skippy-town), Part I was actually pretty dark. You follow Bishop as he gets shipped off to an alien planet, presumably under the guise of protecting Earth from the Ruhar (the hamsters), only to see him first get stuck on what he considers babysitting duty, and then to see him learn that maybe he’s on the wrong side of this war after all.
Actually, it’s worse than that. I felt like the analogy that Bishop talks about in the book is pretty spot on. Earth is N. Africa in WWII. Both the Allies and the Axis don’t really care about the native people, and said native people get slaughtered because they are so far behind the major fighting powers technologically. So what’s Bishop to do? Just be sad? Earth has essentially been conquered by the Lizards; the Hamsters, while objectively better, do not necessarily care about liberating Earth, and have killed several hundred Earth soldiers.
Part I gets *dark*. Bishop talks about how he feels shooting down the two Hamster dropships, ostensibly killing 1,000 Hamster soldiers in the process. He describes the nightmares he has where he thinks he saw the pilot of one of the dropships look straight at him and ask “Why?”
He also sees a young pilot who refuses to shoot a Hamster school get reprimanded by basically getting executed by having the power cut off in her plane, forcing her to crash. Her last words and thoughts were basically “I didn’t have control of the plane. I didn’t mean to shoot that school full of kids.”
After he gets reprimanded and jailed for refusing to kill Ruhar civilians, he ends up in jail, where he learns that because the Kristang (the Lizards) don’t value female lives, the women soldiers who also willfully disobeyed orders to murder civilians were being raped, tortured, and hung while the male prisoners were merely being sentenced to death. He learns later too that since he’s a guy, he got to eat, while the women prisoners were starved during their ordeal.
This is some truly dark stuff for a book that ends on such a light-hearted note. It’s a weird contrast and I sometimes wonder if the author meant to change the tone so drastically when Skippy was introduced.
Anyway, this is an action book. There isn’t a lot of time spent on character development; heck, you can argue that *nobody* grew as a character, not even Bishop, our protagonist.
But it is extremely entertaining. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. I wonder if it will do what The Atlantis Trilogy did, where each book has the same writing style, but each book is also a different kind of story? Or if it will be more of a continuation of the adventures of Skippy and the paisley, no wait, the paramecium pirates (you’ll get that joke after you read it the story haha).