Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: A Galaxy At War by John Fitch V

Rating: 4 out of 5

Have you ever read a novel and gone through about a hundred different opinions of it before you finished? Have you ever started out disliking something, grew to appreciate it, then loathe it, have it grow on you once more, become ready to throw it away, and finally put it down, wait a few days, and then say, “I’m not sure what I read, but it just might be brilliant?”

This, in a nutshell, was my experience reading “A Galaxy At War” by John Fitch V.

“A Galaxy At War” is the story of Ryann Germayne, a pilot for the GFS (Galaxy of Free Systems). It seems that the GFS rules its universe with a sort of aluminum fist. It makes demands on the planets under its control and will not let them govern themselves, and yet though most of the book they seem a bit weak and pathetic for what is portrayed as a powerful political entity.

Long story short, the Rebels are fighting back against the cruel rule of the GFS, and Ryann and his wife, Joslyne, who is the gunner on their ship, The Tub, traverse space, trying to hold back the Rebels any way they can.

At first, I thought this book was a parody. There are so many clich├ęs throughout the first third of it. You have the witty banter between Ryann and Joslyne (“hotshot” and “flyboy”?), a robot assistant who can speak hundreds of languages, and political intrigue that really isn’t that intriguing. Add to this the humor that comes from the overuse of the term “photonics” (why is it red and green and what does that mean?) and the fact that everyone’s favorite drink is “stimu-tonic” (what, coffee’s not good enough in space?) and you have the perfect ingredients for satire.

However, after a while, those elements disappear and the tone becomes muddled. Allegiances flip-flop for seemingly no reason at all. There are severely over-explained plans that are far from complex and yet presented as such. During this time, I seriously considered putting down the book.

Come the end, I was glad I didn’t.

Something strange happened along the way while I was rolling my eyes at the text. All of a sudden the tone became dark and serious, and the writing reflected as such. The characters’ previous actions began to make sense. It all came upon me quickly, as if I hadn’t been paying attention the whole time and it only just then popped into my brain and screamed at me to look closer. It became more than a space opera, turning into something meaningful, something that would make the 9/11 conspiracy theorists proud.

So I didn’t write my review immediately afterwards and sat on the book for a few days. In that time, it’s gained greater notoriety in my head. The themes make sense, and the humor does, too. I think I finally understand what Mr. Fitch was trying to accomplish with it, and in the opinion of this reviewer he pulled it off.

In other words, try out A Galaxy At War. By the time you’re done, I think you’ll have enjoyed it…though it might take a while to figure out why you did.

Check out the book's Amazon page here

Plot - 9

Characters - 7

Voice - 8

Execution - 8

Personal Enjoyment - 8

Overall - 40/50 (4.0/5)

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