This month I've been neck-deep in speculative fiction in all stripes. It's been quite an excellent batch, with each book standing out in a unique way.
Initially, I had a hell of a time getting this book. The first quarter or so is reminiscent of Starship Troopers and The Forever War––impressionable youngster enters basic training in preparation to fight an alien adversary. To be honest, I was expecting something different, and what I got felt like a retread of the classics. The main distinguishing points are that the protagonist is a woman, and the narrative is crasser than the books mentioned above.
The Light Brigade comes into its own when Dietz, the protagonist, experiences her first combat drop. Then the novel becomes one hell of a trip. Who are the aliens? Are the Martians just transplanted humans? Or are the grunts being sent to fight or exterminate citizens of rival corporations? Dietz doesn't know for sure, and the reader certainly doesn't. The story is told in the first person, and I suspect Dietz isn't the most reliable narrator. Not because she's lying, but she's unable to separate one reality from another. At times, the novel feels like Groundhog's Day on crack. It's damn exciting and intriguing and keeps you guessing right to the end and beyond.
Overall, The Light Brigade is a fun and timely read. Some of the questions Hurley raises about who controls information and, in a sense, our shared reality seem very pertinent given recent world events. Despite its imperfections, this is a damn good book. I look forward to reading more novels by Kameron Hurley.
I just wrote an extended review of this novel that you can read here
and a review on GoodReads here. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the novel.
Wow. What can I say? This novel is fantastic. I read the author's preferred edition. It's a whopper. I honestly wondered how much I would like this doorstop of a novel. Well, let me tell you, it's a page-turner and well worth the time investment to read. Despite its length, it didn't seem that long. Reading this novel made me understand why King is considered such a masterful novelist.