Review: Soldiers of Earthrise Book 2- Earthlings
Disclaimer: The first half of this book was read in EARC form so some things may be different from the final release available.
Not sure if it’s true, but Book 2 felt much longer than the first one.
Since this is Book 2 of a series, there will be spoilers for Book 1 from here on. As a recap, Jon is drafted by the Earth Defense Force along with squad-mates George and Etty to fight a war to “liberate” planet Bahay, a planet occupied by descendants of Filipinos who have allied themselves with alien Santelmos. Jon meets and falls in love with Maria, a prostitute on her first night on the job. Maria is pursued by Ernesto, a terrorist (or freedom fighter depending on what perspective you’re reading) who wishes to make her his wife instead. Ernesto also killed Jon’s brother prior to the events of the first book. Book 1 ends with the cliffhanger of Jon’s Sergeant, Lizzy, getting shot in the GoGo Cowgirl Bar by Ernesto and a showdown ensues.
I will never stop praising Arenson’s ability to write scenes of chaos or misery and he’s got it in spades in this book, including with how he wraps up the Book 1 cliffhanger. There’s several chapters where the events unfolding are so nightmarish, you’re going to bet it’ll be a dream sequence. Sorry, but things really ARE that bad on planet Bahay. This superior writing really does a lot to make you forget about anything that isn’t perfect in the book.
The book so far does provide more of the same things that Book 1 gave us and that’s 90% a good thing. Unfortunately, there’s still some iffy things with the weapons knowledge. Just as with Book 1, there’s characters firing flintlock weapons in semiautomatic succession which is ludicrous. I’ve said in Book 1’s review how to remedy this and it bears no repeating here.
Also as with Book 1, characters for some reason are hunkering down for the night with their weapons unloaded right in the middle of an enemy city. I can see them carrying Isreali-style with loaded weapons, empty chambers (and I suspect most conscript-heavy military forces do this when not in active combat), but to completely unload your weapon for anything other than a field-cleaning is beyond me. Keep in mind, I have no military experience, just civilian CCW training.
I like that the story narrows things down a bit in the amount of POVs. Book 1 gave us multiple side-POVs alongside Jon and Maria who carried the lion’s share of the story which I felt were unnecessary. In Book 2, it’s been mostly Jon and Maria this time around with very few deviations. The plot feels tighter and has more momentum because of this.
Most redshirt-class characters are still nameless this time around. There were some names mentioned, with passages along the lines of, “Jon recognized Corporal Bob’s mangled corpse. He played cards with him that morning.” Maybe not written that dry, but that’s the level of information given. I think there’s some missed opportunities to show us the loss of some tertiary characters and it’s something I struggle with myself.
I love Maria’s plans to undermine Earth’s war effort. She’s a great combination between being tough and smart.
I take back my complaints about why Lt. Carter is so easy on crazy Clay in Book 1, despite Carter being black and Clay being pretty much an avowed neo-Nazi. You find out about Carter’s past and see that they’re really not so different.
Despite its few flaws, I’m having a great time with this book and I really like the few twists I’ve been thrown so far (particularly one with George).