Audiobook Review: Bloodstar by Ian Douglas

10 09 2012

Bloodstar by Ian Douglas (Star Corpsman, Bk. 1)

Read by David Drummond

Harper Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 45 Min

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Bloodstar has everything a good military science fiction novel should have, lots of action, some cool alien baddies, and well thought out tech, but sadly it stutters along the way with endless exposition, cheesy male fantasy tropes and a poorly executed twist. I liked the characters and overall story, but too many bumps along the road kept me from fully enjoying the trip.

Grade: C

So, I know not to trust Skynet, right. I get it. Some day, when the machines runs the world under the guide of the sentient computer mind that currently inhabits Amazon’s Recommendation program, I will kick myself for giving into its tantalizing suggestions of novels I may like to read. I know that it spends the majority of its time plotting world domination, with only a cursory glance at its book recommendations, and I know it’s using the funding it gets by trapping people into buying their books solely from its hive mind collection of entertainment devices but I still fall for its trap. The Amazon algorithm is a pretty simple standard, "You liked this, and other people who liked this purchased this…" switchaaroo that I could probably have programmed using BASIC in my 9th grade Computer Math class. 10 If Bob Likes ***** Then GOTO 20. 20 Joe Liked ***** and Purchased ****** 30 End. So, one of my favorite sub genres is military science fiction. I have read books by Jack Campbell, John Ringo, David Weber and the like. Back in the day, I used to rate and review Military Science Fiction on Amazon. So, for a long time Amazon has been saying, "Hey Bob, You Like Military Science Fiction. Ian Douglas writes Military Science Fiction, henceforth and so on, you would like Ian Douglas.” Really, despite the evils of Skynet, how can I argue with that logic? So, when I discovered Ian Douglas would be releasing a new book, which is the start of a new series, I thought, "Might as well start appeasing our eventual Overlord now by taking one of his suggestions."

Elliot Carlyle is a Navy Corpsman assigned to a Marine Unit called The Black Wizards. Carlyle dreams of traveling to a new planet where he can discover some new Alien tech and get rich. Yet, when he get’s his first active assignment to travel to Bloodworld where a breakoff religious colony is being threatened by an Alien race, getting rich is the last thing on his mind. He just wants to survive, put his past behind him and make sure his fellow soldiers come home in one piece. There is a lot to like in Bloodstar. Douglas fills his military science fiction tale with lots of details on new technology and Alien biology. Yet, despite these fascinating details, the story is held back by seemingly endless exposition, stilted dialogue, and an overall permeation of cheesiness. Bloodstar feels like the novelization of a shtickty SYFY sequel to the original Starship Troopers movie, which let’s face it, was a pretty cheesy version of a good book. The major problem was, it wasn’t cheesy fun, it was take-yourself-too-seriously but still cheesy. I didn’t hate Bloodstar. At points I enjoyed it. Then, some female soldier would show up to some dinner party in a not simply revealing but basically not existent outfit so the guys could lust after her, and I was like, “Come On!" I actually liked Elliot Carlyle as a character. There were moments where his story was really working, then suddenly it was like Douglas got this brilliant idea for a twist, and went with it despite the fact that it didn’t really match up with what he did in the past. I would call it a continuity error, but it was more like the author was saying, "Oh, what I really meant was that, and you just made a natural assumption that any human being would make.  So really, it‘s your fault if you can’t slam the round pegs of your assumptions into this square hole of a plot twist I just chiseled" It was frustrating because the twists could have been awesome, if executed properly but here it just left me with a case of the "but… butt…”’s." Bloodstar has everything a good military science fiction novel should have, lots of action, some cool alien baddies, and well thought out tech, but sadly it stutters along the way with endless exposition, cheesy male fantasy tropes and a poorly executed twist. I liked the characters and overall story, but too many bumps along the road kept me from fully enjoying the trip.

This is my first time listening to David Drummond as a narrator. For the most part, he did well. His pacing was fine, and his characters all came off well, I just didn’t really like his voice. Now, I can understand why he was cast for this novel. He actually almost sounded like the voice in the propaganda portions of the Starship Troopers movie. He had this sort of old school tone with exaggerated inflection that reminds me of how I assumed most books on tape sounded before I became an audiobook convert. Drummond sounds like a guy you would hire to voice your political ad, if you were running in the 70’s. It wasn’t bad, I just never really engaged with it. I think, with the right material, Drummond would be a lot of fun to listen to, but in Bloodstar, his voice actually highlighted what I didn’t like about the novel. I’m sure fans of Ian Douglas’s work would probably enjoy Bloodstar, but for me, it just didn’t work.

Note: Thanks to harper Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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2 responses

10 09 2012
Chinoiseries

I knew there was something fishy about Amazon’s recommendations! I’ll steer clear from it from now on, if I want a chance at survival when Skynet takes over. I think I’ll also pack some extra clothes just in case… something these silly females in Bloodstar cleary forgot. I guess they were too busy stocking weapons…

I have only watched Starship Troopers so far (and not even read it yet) so I’ve got nothing to compare this against. Probably not an audiobook I’d soon buy though.

10 09 2012
russell1200

When the comparative book (the reference book) is within the middle of a catagory, I think it does allright. When the book is not solidly within a genre, or it is by far the best within a genre (top of class) disappointment seems likely.

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