Audiobook Review: Embedded by Dan Abnett

8 11 2012

Embedded by Dan Abnett

Read by Eric G. Dove

Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 52 Min

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Embedded is a cleverly plotted, often times darkly humorous military science fiction tale whose brilliant concept is only bolstered by the authors competent execution. Abnett begins with a strong world and well conceived characters, and finished with breakneck action scenes that will leave the reader breathless.

Grade: B+

One of the things I love most about science fiction is its ability to take recognizable situations and give it a "what if" feel. I especially like this within the boundaries of military science fiction. I have read a few straight forward military novels but rarely do I seek them out. Yet, take the same overall scenarios and add alien space lizards to the mix, and I’m there. Within Military Science fiction we can explore ground wars with crazy new weaponry and naval battles taking place in multi-dimensional space.  As war seems to be becoming not just military struggles but televised events, the embedded reporter has become a new iconic hero of the modern age. These reporters, who haven’t had the same level of training as military personnel, put themselves into harms way to bring us the stories of war in ways that we have never seen before. I think this is what attracted me to Dan Abnett’s Embedded. The basic plot revolves around a seasoned reporter who, while trying to discover the secrets behind a military operation on a colony planet, meets up with a group who has developed a new technology to embed someone into the mind of a soldier. The process allows the reporter to act as a sort of passenger, experiencing what the soldier sees, hears and feels during their mission. Of course, since this is science fiction, something goes terribly wrong.

I have to admit, I was quite surprised by Embedded. It’s undeniable that Abnett has come up with an excellent concept. Not being familiar with Abnett’s work previously I was still a bit skeptical. I have been a witness far too often to excellent science fiction concepts being massacred in execution. There is a tendency for science fiction novelist to spend so much time setting up their concept through endless exposition and techno babble that it just sucks the life out of the story. Happily, Embedded is an excellent example of science fiction done right. Abnett cleverly sets up his world and develops his characters, creating an engaging science fiction experience before we even get to the nuts and bolts of the plot. I really enjoyed how he extrapolated current fads and trends pushing them to a realistic end in his world. He ads these little tidbits, like corporate sponsorship of language censoring, that just seem like cute little bits of world building, then actually surprises you by making them important plot points later on in the novel. Abnett starts off measured and meticulous, yet, when the action does start, it never really lets up. The second half of this novel moves as a breakneck speed, putting our characters in an ever escalating state of mortal danger. If I had any complaint about the novel, it would be the ending. I think the ending accomplished what the author set out to do, but I felt there were certain plot points left floating in the air that I really wanted resolved. I know that this is, of course, set up for the sequel, but for me, I was left unsatisfied. Embedded is a cleverly plotted, often times darkly humorous military science fiction tale whose brilliant concept is only bolstered by the authors competent execution. Abnett begins with a strong world and well conceived characters, and finished with breakneck action scenes that will leave the reader breathless.

I was really impressed with the overall production quality of the Embedded Audiobook. Narrator Eric G. Dove gives a strong reading of the novel, capturing the voice of Lex Fault, the main perspective character, well, He has a strong, pleasant voice, and captures the tone and timber of the novel perfectly. He really excelled at reading the action in this novel, giving it a crisp pace, yet allowing the reader to follow along with the events of the tale. The production uses quite a few interesting tricks that pay off well, particularly with the censored swearing.  This was one of those few times where a novel needed to have special effect utilized, and the production teem pulled it off seamlessly. This was my first experience with Eric G. Dove’s narration, and hopefully, it won’t be my last.

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

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2 responses

9 11 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I’m with you on preferring Scifi in military fiction, although for me it is more like I won’t really read it at all without the aliens.

10 01 2013
The AudioBookaneers 2012 Year in Review, Part 2: Books We Missed | The AudioBookaneers

[…] Adventures by Walter Moers, The Return Man by V.M. Zito, Stand On Zanzibar by John Brunner, Embedded by Dan Abnett, and Pure by […]

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