You know, if I had read the blurb on the back of the book before starting this novel, I would have known that it’s the sequel to Terms of Enlistment. And now I have to go put a hold on that one after finishing the sequel *fake grumbling* and the system doesn’t even have a pre-order in for the final volume of the trilogy, coming out in April!
So, here’s my take on it, having read it without knowing it was 2 of 3 in a series until I got to the end. D’oh. Suddenly some things make a little more sense now. Like the fact that I couldn’t find a plot thread until 2/3 of the way through the book. I was all, “Stuff’s happening? Yay? But I don’t know why this stuff is important?” – now, I figure the importance of those battles was established in the first book. I hope. Maybe reading #1 will make the first half of #2 seem less glacially slow to get started, in retrospect. However, like any good action movie, the real entertainment is watching things go BOOM. Plenty of things went BOOM in the “plotline unclear” parts, so I’m not displeased.
One thing I found was that most of the book is really kind of depressing. Things are looking grim for our heroes, sure, but that went on… and on… and on… and on some more. So as I neared the 300-page mark, I was really hoping that the author nailed the end, because otherwise it was looking an awful lot like another bummer read. I can say that the end was indeed nailed, glimmers of hope surfaced, and now I’m waiting for that April release date on the third book!
The premise of Earth suffering massive overpopulation was sort of odd, kind of like a Malthusian alt-history-future. I don’t think that Earth will ever suffer global overpopulation of that magnitude; it’s just not plausible given our knowledge of how humanity reproduces itself in high-tech socialist environments (namely, generally not much). There was so little explanation of “how things got that way” or why socialism of various flavors took over the entire planet without having vastly expensive space industry totally collapse that I just mentally assigned those premises under “don’t get hyper-realistic about this or it will ruin the reading experience.” But it put my suspension of disbelief under some strain, to be sure, and added to the depressing atmosphere of the book. Maybe book #1 explains that part, too.
Conclusion: entertaining read, probably better if you read the first novel first; good ending.