IN SHORT: A race of genocidal alien bugs has targeted humanity, and they’re coming after us with a lot of ships. I mean, A LOT OF SHIPS.
WHAT IT IS: Expect lots of extremely detailed and well-written combat. Stuff blows up in this book. LOTS of stuff. The military tech of In Death Ground is coherent, detailed, and well thought out. There’s a lot to take in, but I never felt overwhelmed. Even with all the SBMs, AFHAWKs, primaries, heterodyne lasers, force beams, plasma cannons, sprint-mode missiles, and a ton of different ship classes, the novel delivers it at a controlled pace, doling out a few new pieces of tech in each battle. This keeps the combat fresh and exciting.
WHAT IT IS NOT: The characters, while distinct and entertaining, are not the real stars here, and it shows. The viewpoint bounces around quite a bit. As soon as I got comfortable with one group of characters, I had to learn a whole new cast. These viewpoint shifts paint a great picture of a war on multiple fronts, but at the cost of character development.
WHAT I THOUGHT: In Death Ground is fun. The action is fast paced and exciting. Every battle has some sort of interesting twist to it. It’s just a great page turner. Without a doubt, I enjoyed following humanity’s struggle against this unstoppable, genocidal alien juggernaut.
The technical details give it a layer of depth and consistency that just feels right. Humans have the technology advantage. The bugs have massive numbers and just don’t care about casualties. The tactics each side employs are well thought out and consistent within the setting … for the most part. Sometimes the bug “we don’t care how many of us die” mentality can come across as a little stupid.
On a thematic level, this is not a complicated book. The military characters are very heroic. The politicians are complete scum. And the bugs are the bad guys. Period. No question about it. I mean, they even eat human babies, for goodness sake. There is no ambiguity here.
The novel does show a little of the bug perspective, but only in a military tactical sense. At no point does the reader get any insight into why the bugs invaded or who they really are. They are faceless, remorseless killers that serve as foils for the heroic humans. That’s it.
But that’s okay. This is an action novel. I wanted spaceships to blow up in exciting ways, and I got it. If that’s what you’re after, then In Death Ground will not disappoint.