Book Review: Fortress Beta City by J.R. Handley

Book Review: Fortress Beta City by J.R. Handley
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Character:  I mentioned in my review for Legion that Lance is the only character I could really hold onto.  While I still think the reader has too many characters to track, things calm down, and we do get to know more of the other characters. I remember GG, a Junton commander. Basil has an amazing hero moment!  Nhlappo is an interesting character as well.  Those characters create an effective base and allow the reader to grow closer to the characters around them. I’d say that’s a definite improvement.  Lance sort of disappears near the end of the book (not literally, like a spoiler, but his air time sort of falls off). The action is so quick, the reader shouldn’t really mind. Besides, I was more interested in GG’s arc at the time. This isn’t unexpected in a series. You’re going to meet a cast of characters, and some books may shift from character to character. I’m most looking forward to Nhlappo’s confrontation with Spartika. If book 3 delivers that, I’m a happy guy. I’d still like a bit more air time for those characters and fewer cuts to other characters, but as long as I have these guys to follow, I’ll be loyal to the series.

World building:  I still think fans of Human Legion will latch onto this more quickly, but I was able to track this story pretty effectively. Now, part of this is because one source of conflict is the survivability of the planet. This clever source of conflict allows a nube like me to get familiar with Human Legion terms and characters as I learn about the story. I didn’t feel nearly as lost in this book as I did at times in book one. Part is because I have a book under my belt, the other is because of that particular plot line.

Description: This is the strongest area of Handley’s writing. He gives the reader what he needs without taking away the readers imagination. He has a nice mix of active verbs and carefully placed adjectives that help the reader visualize through observation instead of narration. He does himself a credit with how he draws the reader in with scenes and action sequences. Action scenes are key in science fiction combat books, and Handley has that part down.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: The Legion Awakes by J.R. Handley

Book Review: The Legion Awakes by J.R. Handley
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All images were provided with and by permission from J.R. Handley. Any redistribution without his written consent is in violation of copyright doctrine.

Character:  Lance is memorable, and he’s compelling to read about in an 1980’s action movie sort of way. What this book makes up for in pace and excitement, Handley gives up a bit in terms of character. It’s not that Lance isn’t cool; It’s not even that there aren’t other cool characters. The problem is characters get thrown at the reader very quickly, and readers don’t get a lot of time in their heads. Basil is probably my favorite character. He also has the most satisfying arc. I remember Wires because of the nickname, but that’s about it. That said, this felt like an informed decision on the part of J.R (who most of you know is a friend of mine).  This area is probably the weakest of the book for that reason, but I repeat this is because Lance is so powerful and there are SO many other characters we don’t get a chance to learn about.

Worldbuilding:  So I understand that Sleeping Legion is a sub-set of the Human Legion saga. There’s a bit of a struggle (very small mind you). I think if you’re a fan of Human Legion, you’ll burn through this without issue, but there are some pieces of information that bring questions to those who haven’t read that universe. I equate it to people who watch something like Doctor Strange without seeing the other MCU movies. You don’t ACTUALLY need it to understand what’s going on, but it probably increases the enjoyability.  If you’ve read both, I’d be curious to hear if you agree in the comments below. What I will say is the world building we need to understand is laid out for the reader in a plot relevant style.

17035309_1868128633457762_1660927310_nDialogue:  It’s solid, though I wouldn’t be able to argue with those who say some characters sound alike. Lance steals the show for the most part. What the book lacks in voice, it makes up for in mannerisms that are indeed unique to the characters. As a military guy, what’s nice about the dialogue is the natural flow of the military conversations. This book does a great job of mixing up the odd manner service members have of mixing high intensity conversations with light hearted topics that break that tension. It’s realistic. If you’re a service member, you get it.

Description: Depending on who you are, this is either the strongest part of Handley’s game or the weakest. I’m not a fan of description, so the sparse details don’t bother me a bit. It allows the plot to surge forward at a breakneck pace.  Again, I’m not actually a science fiction reader. High fantasy (probably my favorite genre) is very detail obsessive. So if you’re looking for schematic ready description, you’ll probably be disappointed. But you have the visuals you need to move along. Like I said, I’m honestly very interested to hear what fans of this genre have to say on the matter. For my money, I don’t actually care about the layout, specks of the weapons or things like that. I wouldn’t say no to a few more beats of description, but I honestly didn’t miss it.

15673254_1834716943465598_837346620_nOverall: Lance plus a relentless plot pace makes this a really enjoyable book. J.R. makes no excuses or apologies for what he writes, and I’m in agreement with him. This is plup fiction, action oriented storytelling. Any reader could zip through this book during a large meal and a tasty desert. (No, really! I totally read this in about a week, which in Matt’s reading time is about two days…maybe 5 hours of reading time. That’s LUDICROUS Speed at it’s finest).  At the end of the day this is a pleasant, action-packed story that blends elements of 1980s action movies with science fiction themes.

Thanks for reading,

Matt