Due to some unethical and TOS violating marketing this book caught my notice and I decided to take a look at it. Is this book truly as good as the author claims, and some glowing 5 star reviews assert? Well, in addition to the spamming, and strange claims of being well suited for fans of very dissimilar books, it will probably not surprise you that more honest reviewers also state it is in serious need of good editing.
Looking at the Kindle Sample, so far the first 9 pages are one big Info Dump. *Snore*.
So far, the sketchy info we have about the two "girlfriends" of the high ranking North Korean official that are hanging out at his pool is that they're unbelievably interested in the eagle-but-we-know-it's-really-a-drone they see flying. Like, seriously, in between huge info dumps about this drone, it's mechanics and functioning, etc, these girls just keep repeating things like,
"Look at the pretty bird,"
"Oh, I see it," "Is it an eagle? I think it's an eagle!"
"I think it is an eagle,"
"Do you see the eagle, Mr. Kim?"
"Look, Mr.Kim. The eagle is right there."
"Do you see the eagle?" [Yes AGAIN...] "she asked Kim again."
Now, I admit, I'm not an expert in how nubile young "girlfriends" act and talk about when hanging out at the luxury pool of a powerful and wealthy man in what is a very poor country. But I really do expect this isn't it.
And, back to some unnecessarily detailed info dumping...
And then, "Understanding if he didn't look at the eagle, the women would continue to pester him,"
Are these "women" eight years old? Mentally challenged in some way? On drugs? Or maybe this guy has a fetish for ornithologists?
'"It's so beautiful," his girlfriend [inconsistent - as we're already told there are two of his "girlfriends" present, so...] said. "It must have a nest close to here. Around and around it goes. I've seen it every day for the last few days."'
Really, I'm shaking my head, sure, mention the bird, but this is really ridiculous and unbelievable behavior by women in this situation. I'm getting the impression the author here just wants the characters to serve the plot - which is calling attention to this "bird" (and talking about it on and on and on), and didn't put much thought into making these "girlfriends" believable as actual characters, or the situation of hanging out at this pool very believable. He's also insulting his readers, because he apparently thinks they are too stupid to notice something important unless he repeatedly hits them over the head with it.
So far, Mr. Kim has only grunted. Twice.
"Did you see it?" "Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful if you could just float on the air like that? No worries. No problems."
Mr. Kim laughs.
Now we get more telling and not showing.
The First Chapter: A drone that is made to appear to be an eagle is flying above the estate of a North Korean official tasked with building a long range missile. The official and two of his "girlfriends" notice it. And pages and pages and pages of info dumping about this drone, and the hot water this guy will be in if he doesn't deliver.
That's it. (I'm still bored).
Ok, the eagle-really-a-drone is being shot at, and the drone operator says, "Don't those idiots know that the eagle is a protected species?"
Telling me he's an idiot since 1. only certain species of eagle are protected and 2. in the US. I suspect the author may have intended that to come off as sarcastic humor, but the way things are written here in context it doesn't come off that way. Probably in part because of a lack of providing important details like facial expressions and tone of voice.
"He'd been recruited by Hail because he was the winner of the X-Wing Fantasy Flight Game Contest."
I just rolled my eyes so hard I hurt myself.
I'm a gamer. I'm also a Sci-Fi reader. I know there's actually a place to put gamer-fantasy-fulfillment like this into a story and have a willing audience go with the author, in spite of this sort of thing being unbelievable and unrealistic. That place is in some forms of Sci-Fi/Fantasy. It doesn't suit a political thriller like this book is. Here it simply feels so unrealistic it jars the reader out of the story. This type of story depends upon sounding realistic and credible, making it sound believable, even when stretching what we currently have as far as present day tech. This is one example of where this book fails in that regard.
Enter the woman team member, "Typically, she wore a dress that showed off her long legs. [Of course she does *roll eyes*] She was tall for an Asian woman, but she liked being tall. Tall, smart and sexy."
Excuse me while I hurl. Yeah, yeah, I get this is a "guy" story. Puke.
This woman is the member of a para-military team, on a para-military ship, in the middle of a para-military operation. Wearing a dress. Just, no. <= not gonna happen. A skintight, latex, catsuit would make more sense than a dress. Does this ship have an elevator? Because if she's using stairs or ladders to move between decks she's giving everyone a nice show, whether they want it or not. Maybe she doesn't care. *eyeroll*
Then of course she has to look down and check out her fingernail polish. For chipping. Ya know, just to look like she's cool and collected. Or, has her priorities seriously skewed. Again - No.
I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps this woman just slept her way through MIT, because so far she cares mostly about looking sexy, showing off her legs, and the state of her manicure. Sure, those things have their place - but not in the middle of a para-military operation on board a para-military ship.
This is really, really, bad as far as female characters, who so far are either cardboard props just there to cry out "the bird! the bird!", or a book smart woman who clearly has zero common sense, and is so sexual a being she has to walk around on a para-military ship where the guys flop around in t-shirts, wearing sexy dresses so, I dunno, she can be oogled or something.
I'm wondering if the person who wrote this has ever met a woman, like, in actual real life.
One reader made fun of this comment, which is part of the narration, not a comment from a character:
"...but missile technology was complicated—damn near rocket science."
The sarcastic comment about this is well deserved, because of course missile technology is exactly rocket science.
Prior to his unceremoniously being removed from GoodReads for TOS violations, the author insulted this reader for not being able to recognize what he felt was obvious sarcastic humor.
Well, I have read the above in context and I can confirm it doesn't come off as sarcastic humor by the narrator. It's rare for a book to have a narrator that breaks the 4th wall to give humorous asides to the reader. And when it's done it's both consistent and clear. That this statement comes off as stupid, rather than a joke by the narrator, is a failure of the writing, not of the reader.
This book, so far, isn't the worst I've read, although that bar is really, really low, and it may have appeal for a male audience who like female characters to be out of male fantasy rather than reality, and enjoy prolonged and very detailed explanations and descriptions of numerous gadgets and weaponry. But, it's not that great, either.
I found the characterization to be shoddy to non-existent. The writing is way too much telling not showing, with pages and pages of info dumping. I understand some readers enjoy high tech stories with details about the gadgets, but that should be told organically to the story, and interspersed with the plot and the action. Here the story grinds to a halt as we're provided a detailed lecture. It's incredibly boring, and very bad writing. Particularly for an Action/Adventure/Thriller.
Don't like the marketing efforts for this one. This author has been booted from GoodReads for spamming many users offering them this book for free. In these spam messages he makes claims to it being similar to all sorts of dissimilar popular books, in the effort to entice readers.
After being booted from GoodReads this author continues his spam campaign by creating new accounts, sending spam to users, then deleting those accounts. Rendering blocking useless, and making reporting to GR more difficult.
This author is also asking people to "like" positive reviews of his books, which is considered review manipulation and violates TOS.
Additionally, the $9.99 price is also way too high for a self-pubbed ebook.