I wanted desperately to love this book, sadly it fell just a little short of brilliance.
It's by Dan Abnett, one of my favourite authors and the man wI wanted desperately to love this book, sadly it fell just a little short of brilliance.
It's by Dan Abnett, one of my favourite authors and the man who's work got me writing, so you can see why I may have had preconceived notions about the quality. Before reading, however, I made a concerted effort not to go into the book determined to worship it no matter its flaws.
So what is Embedded? It's a book about a burnt out journalist who gets his consciousness implanted into the mind of a soldier so he can get an insiders view of a potential story that the authorities are trying to keep hush hush. Things go wrong, as indeed they must, and he ends up fighting for his survival.
The first act is a bit slow, not so much slow as in taking its time, but slow as in you have to really work at those first 100 or so pages. The characters are introduced, there's a couple of humorous asides -such as the corporate sponsored curse word- and the world is fleshed out, but it takes too long.
The term 'first act' might in fact be a bit of a misnomer as there aren't so much three acts in the book as there are two parts. Once things have gone wrong there is no clear point where there a third act might take place. With some books there is an almost audible 'thunk' between acts, but that is not so here. That's not a point for or against the book, just a statement.
Those of you familiar with Dan Abnett will probably be aware that he has written more books set in the Warhammer 40k universe than I have hairs on my head, and that pedigree shows, once the violence starts and the lasers start pew pewing their way across the page things really get going. The action is well written and there is enough downtime between battles to get a good feel for how it is effecting the characters. The fight scenes are visceral and tense, the dialogue is good and then the ending happens.
No really, that's it, the ending just happens.
I'm not sure just what it is that brought about the slap in the face ending, it feels like Abnett had more left in him but the publisher said "nah, that's it, you've got ten pages to wrap everything up, hop to it".
So there you have it, good but long opening, and an ending that comes out of nowhere, but the stuff in between is excellent.
So is it worth your time and money? Well, if you want a good bit of sci-fi military action then yeah, if you want social and political commentary (normally one of the things sci-fi is quite good at) then no. That's not to say that it doesn't have some political commentary (as it does) but it's not the point of the book. The point of the book is to shoot guys with lasers, and if that's what you want then you could do a lot worse than Embedded...more