Review: War Dogs

War DogsWar Dogs by Greg Bear
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The writing and plot was much better than City at the End of Time, which was completely convoluted and impossible to follow. I tried re-reading that a couple times, kept giving up. Haven’t read Bear’s other recent novel yet, Hull Zero Three, will be starting it next.

War Dogs starts off as a promising military sci-fi story, but it’s kind of overdone–the hu-rah bullcrap that I get sick of hearing sheeple repeat. Thank GOD the Bush years are over. So, that whole mindset is at play here and frankly, I couldn’t care less that these guys are Marines in space. So what? There is never a single engagement with the enemy, just a couple skirmishes and a lot of running.

The part down in the moon thingie (ah crap I can’t even remember the name for it now) was okay, I guess, sort of made sense in the end, but I think Bear left out a couple key pages that were meant to describe the Skyrines going nuts or seeing visions or something, because he sort of talks about it, but doesn’t actually DO it in the story. It’s like, we’re about to go into battle…hang on I’ll tell you about it later. Okay, the battle’s over, so here’s what happened… I found that type of disjointed narrative hard to follow.

I’m intrigued enough to read the sequel, which obviously there will be because the end of this one was sudden and short. The novel is way too short for sci-fi at 290 pages. That’s just the first scene for a Peter Hamilton story–not that I’m a fan of gargantuan books, but 350-400 is usually expected in this genre. What is 290, something like 90,000 words? That’s more like a YA novel. There’s just not enough material here for the genre.

I’m not sure if I’d call it hard sci-fi, which is my favorite sub-genre. I don’t like fantasy sci-fi, which is what most writers are putting out these days. There’s just really no tech in the story, you just take it for granted that a fancy word for a gun means it’s deadly, and you take for granted (I guess) what a Jeep-whatsit looks like because Bear gives no indication. I might guess these are vehicles similar to what are found in Halo but who knows? It’s guesswork. Too much filling in the mind’s eye with imagination without direction. It’s right on the borderline of being memorable, but it seemed like Bear was holding back in order to push out a trilogy. That’s okay, I get the economics, but this novel was too light on concepts.

I’d recommend it for a Bear fan, but suggest waiting for a sale. Incidentally, a year after writing this review, via the Kindle ebook, I bought the hardcover for $5.

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