(NOTE: Again, if you’re wondering where the other For A Few Credits More stories are, please remember I review all books in the order I read them. Don’t worry! You’ll get the rest of the reviews in time.)
Spoiler Free Summary: Colony Lost by Chris Philbrook is the first book in The Ghara Chronicles. Also, it was the M.L.S. Weech 2017 Book Cover of the Year! Humanity has been colonizing planets for generations. Dustin and Melody are newlywed Marines seeking to colonize one last planet so they can retire and start their life together. However, the planet Selva holds a dark, dangerous secret that will change the course of their lives and that of the human race.
Character: So, I have to be honest here, the early pages were a bit hard to stay with. We had a bunch of characters thrown at us very quickly, and it was hard to keep track. Now, I can’t complain; I did the same thing with Caught, and the rewards were similar. Once the characters were introduced, we got great action and wonderfully diverse tension. I love the characters in this story! I thought they were all fascinating and compelling. Once the story got going (and I’d say it took at least 50 pages to get there), I honestly didn’t want to put this book down. The characters were one of two reasons why.
Exposition: This didn’t bother me in the least. It probably wasn’t amazing. I remember an info dump here or there. I’d say the beginning drags a bit because of this, but then it fades, and we’re left to enjoy the action.
World building: So this is my second-favorite part of this book. The way this plot is set up and organized had to have taken meticulous planning. The way this story evolves and the relationship Selva has to the plot is something I don’t honestly like in most stories, but this story did it so well I was pleased. This story isn’t anything like Pernin terms of overall plot, but the way the planet becomes the threat felt akin to the same way Pern’s characters face challenges. Now, the characters in Pern were far more compelling, but it’s honestly unfair to compare my favorite series ever to any other series in that category. Still, the use of science fiction planets as a source of conflict is something rare. Using it in a primarily action-based story is even more unusual, and I loved it.
Dialogue: Philbrook’s characters feel so real, and the dialogue is one of the reasons why. I think service members will feel a connection to mundane conversations in intense situations. I never even saw a hint of combat, but in my work with combat fighters, I noticed a lot of conversation that was oddly common in some pretty miserable situations. This author portrayed that well. No, it’s not the wittiest, sharpest banter you’ll ever read. It might even seem cliche to some, and I don’t know that I’d argue, but I felt right at home with these characters.
Description: This book activated the IMAX high-def, 3-D movie theater in my imagination. It was perfect. If I heard this book got a green light for a movie, I’d oder advance tickets just to see some of the wonderful effects. I honestly felt more in the action than some movies I’ve been to lately. Listen, I hate description. I loath it! Philbrook knows exactly when to provide what detail to keep you interested, squirming, or enraged. It’s not in the amount of description (which is a thing most authors insist on thinking) it’s in the specificity of it. Every sense you have is activated to create a full effect without a half-page tangent on armor, skin, clothes, or whatever.
Overall: If you haven’t already figured it out by now, this book is currently (and likely will be) the best fiction book I’ve read all year! It was compelling and action packed. It has the action and intensity of Aliens, the humorous charm of Tremors, and the world building of Pern. If you like those stories, give this one a shot. I don’t think you’ll regret it. (NOTE: Might have to slog through those first 50 pages, but that’s just par for the course when dealing with scifi.)