Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm by John Ringo
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NOTE: I received this from Amazon Vine.

So I typically write a plot summary for books. This one was a particular challenge, as A) I didn't get very far and B) what plot I could derive was very convoluted. So please bear with me as I attempt to dredge one up from memory and using the cover blurb.

So humans are still battling the Posleen (since this is one of many in the Legacy of Aldenata series, this human-Posleen war has been ongoing for awhile). Lieutenant General Michael O'Neal (who is the Marty Stue for this novel - I'm guessing he's the primary character in the earlier books) ends up on this planet, leading his troops against the Posleen and finds a race of near-humans. Apparently the Darhell had imported them to this planet, but given the Darhel are in charge of everything, this could mean bad, bad news, especially since (due to military looting laws), the entire Darheel race owes Michael O'Neal a mint.

Other than that, I got nothing.

DNF at page 61.

I know what you are asking: "Why did you DNF? If you don't like this book, then why did you bother reading it in the first place?" Well, I have answers, but let me back up and give you some history.

This is, as I mentioned above, an Amazon Vine book. When I first signed up on Amazon Vine, I was so happy to get free books, I pretty much picked ANYTHING, especially if it was "science fiction". So when I got this and found out AFTER the fact it was part of a series, I was a bit discouraged. Trying to read more than a couple of pages proved to be a challenge. So I threw it in a corner with the promise to read and review "one day".

Well, last year, Amazon Vine has changed their rules; they REALLY want you to review all the items you get and within 30 days. While they've made it clear that all "old" items don't fall under this new requirement, it made me more aware then ever that I need to clear out these half dozen Vine books I've requested and never read. So I added "Finish those Unread Amazon Vine ARCs" with my 2014 challenge to read mostly books from my personal library.

I tried, people. I really did. I know giving up at 61 out of 425 pages doesn't seem like I gave it much of a chance, but I REALLY did. Several million times between page 1 and 61, I wanted to give up the book, but I didn't. I kept picking it up, even after putting it down or falling asleep while reading it (the latter is not necessarily the book's fault BTW).

But I can't continue anymore. I just can't.

Major Reasons Why I Can't Force Myself to Finish This Book

1) I really don't think military scifi is my thing. This is my second (third?) foray into the genre, and I am bored and confused, as I have been with pretty much every other military scifi book. I'm not following the action, don't care about the characters, and am confused as hell by the plot. This is not the fault of the book or the author; it is purely a "me" thing. And even if this book is an Amazon Vine book, I don't think I should have to try to finish the book when it's obvious it is not for me.

2) It's not particularly well written. Some sentences are atrocious, such as the one below:

"He was holding a girl. One with bright red hair and very pretty blue eyes. The girl tried to kick him in the crotch. Okay, so romance probably wasn't right around the corner."

Blech! Not only is it incredibly sexist ("girl" should only be used if the narrator/speaker is a misogynist or the female is under the age of 18), but the sentence construction is bland and very choppy, like you might find in middle grade or younger fiction.

I know, I know: military scifi or genre fiction doesn't need to be brilliant literature. I get that, but hear me out. Don't we ridicule Stephenie Meyer for her bland writing in the paranormal YA romance "Twilight"? (And trust me, she will never win awards for the writing in that quartet.) Why is it OK there to critique her (she's writing genre fiction too), but it's not OK to critique John Ringo for eye-rolling dull writing?

3) The characters are bland and interchangeable, minus our resident Marty Stu. I am well acquainted that scifi puts more of an emphasis on plot and surroundings than characters, but that doesn't mean that it can get away with perfectly indistinguishable characters. Other than Marty Stu and Ridiculous (see #4 below), I can't recall a single other character from the book. They are all names, nothing else.

What makes it worse is the book's Marty Stu, Mike O'Neal. Yes, he is a Marty Stu. I know "Mary Sue" gets thrown around a LOT, but I'm trying to be better about the label. When I say he is, he really is.

+ He's a rebel, who is always right, can backtalk his superiors and never suffer repercussions, and is the Only Good Officer

(NOTE: In these kinds of books, as in the ranks of the real enlisted, officers are generally the "bad guys" because they don't "do as much" as the enlisted. Sometimes it's true, but sometimes it's just a bunch of hot air.)

+ He's an 80 year old Skoal chewer who could pass for a man a QUARTER of his age.

Yes, this sounds totally plausible - no wish-fulfillment or fantasy here!

4) The one other character I can remember isn't because of how well-written she is, it's because she doesn't make any sense. We are introduced at one point to Cally, who is 58 year old and looks 20. So yeah, we have that annoying trait where people look a third or a quarter of their age. It's annoying, but that's not the problem with her. The problem is that IN THE SAME PARAGRAPH that we learn her age, we also learn that she has been an agent for "most of those" 58 years? HOLD YOUR BRAKES! How is that possible?! She was inducted as an agent when she was ONE? A baby? Are these people Jedi? Because unless you say that they are weird Jedi baby snatchers, I am NOT going to believe that a woman who is 58 can spend "most of those years" as an agent. Heck, even if it were like the Jedi Order, the individual isn't a REAL Jedi until he/she/it gets to be a Jedi Knight, in his/her/its 20's most likely. So that would be 38 years as an agent, nowhere near the "most of those 58 years" bullsh!t.

5) It's in the middle of an extensive series. Nowadays, I try to avoid this, but I REALLY hate starting in the middle of a series and spending all my time playing "catch up". It's not 100% fair of me to say, "I don't like this", when I know there's a bajillion other books I need to read to catch up. And right now, I'm already invested in enough series, and I really don't want to add anymore to my plate.

Minor Quibbles:

1) Look back up at my plot summary. Did you notice 3 different spellings of the D-named race? That wasn't me being an idiot, unable to proofread. No, that was me poking fun at the book. Because every time I read the D-named race, it was spelled differently in the text. Now one spelling, I believe, was what another race designated the D-named race. But having 3 different spellings of the same race floating around made it EXTREMELY confusing. Was it an ARC error that got fixed in final publication? Or was the editor napping? You be the judge!

2) The disconcerting mentions of PowerPoint and Hoth. Is there no better presentation software in the future? And the future knows Star Wars?!

3) Pet Peeve: If you can describe your ENTIRE alien species with one or two adjectives, you are probably doing it wrong. I've HATED this in Star Wars; I absolutely despise it elsewhere.

So, I'm done. That said, I DO think this is a prime example of "it's not you, it's me". For people who like military scifi, you will probably ADORE this. In that case, PLEASE ignore this review, ignore my opinions and proceed full throttle.

If military scifi isn't your thing, if you have a low tolerance for Marty Stuism, beware!!
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Reading Progress

01/01/2014 marked as: currently-reading
01/01/2014 page 6
1.0% "My very first Amazon Vine choice; my goal is, at the very least, to get to page 100 and assess whether I am interested in this series/author."
01/02/2014 page 12
2.0% "Dry, but maybe these characters will perk it up."
01/04/2014 page 16
3.0% "Is beginning to think that Military SciFi is not for her - it is SO OBVIOUS that this is part of a series, that this is meant for people who love tech porn."
01/05/2014 page 22
5.0% "Ugh, this is gonna be another "common military dude is so much more noble and honest and WONDERFUL than your average officer or political a-hole". The pro-military vibe (along with emphasis on DEATHS from the Only Good Officer O'Neal vs DAMAGES from the Bad Selfish Inhumane Admiral) is just oozing from the pages."
01/05/2014 page 22
5.0% ""He was over eighty years old with the body of a twenty year old." And he chews Skoal? Wish fulfillment much????" 4 comments
01/05/2014 page 29
6.0% "So PowerPoint still exists in this futuristic world, along with Skoal. Oh, and enough pro-military sentiment to fill an Olympic-sized pool. *must reach 25%, must reach 25%*"
01/06/2014 page 36
8.0% "It's not a half bad book when a) your Marty Stu is reigned in, b) your prose isn't dripping with pro-military, anti-everyone else crap, and c) you don't clutter your narrative with info dumps. Shock, I know!"
01/07/2014 page 41
9.0% ""He was holding a girl. One with bright red hair and very pretty blue eyes. The girl tried to kick him in the crotch. Okay, so romance probably wasn't right around the corner." Given you said GIRL instead of WOMAN, meaning she MUST be under the age of 18, HELL YEAH. (And really? Only chick and ALREADY she's a trophy for one of the sausages???! And not to mention WHAT SHIT WRITING!!)"
01/09/2014 page 47
10.0% ""I mean, we've got polar ice caps, but it's not exactly Hoth." Huh, WHAT?!?!! A scifi book references Star Wars?! (And it's not explicitly meant to be funny?!) And this conversation between O'Neal and Lerskel feels like Someone just randomly grabbed sentences from a hat and shoved them in here. I can't follow a thread at all."
01/10/2014 page 52
12.0% "Pet Peeve: If you can describe your ENTIRE alien species with one or two adjectives, you are probably doing it wrong. Hutts =/= Space Mafia. Rodians =/= simpering losers. Darheel (or however you want to spell the race today) =/= slimy, political scumbags. Inowy =/= techny geeks. You don't describe humans this way, you don't get to do that with aliens. How come this is so hard to understand???"
01/11/2014 page 52
12.0% "So Cally is 58 (appearing 20, because f$&@, why not? At least the book is consistent with ridiculous adages between the sexes), and "for most of those 58 years she had been an agent"? HUH?!?! You mean she was a BABY AGENT?! Willing suspension of disbelief ANNIHILATED."
01/12/2014 page 56
12.0% ""Does any of this have a point?" Best question in the 56 pages I've waded through. I can already tell that I'm probably not going to make my 25% rule - I'm pretty much done with this and Ringo (no offense to Ringo)."
01/12/2014 page 57
13.0% "Aaaaand this plot, about how the Darhel/Darhell/Darheel/Darwhamma-damma-ding-dong owe Mike O'Marty Stu enough to bankrupt THE ENTIRE DARHEL RACE, reminds me of that shitty "Year Zero" book, the one some hopeful called the "successor" to Douglas Adams. Can I finish the chapter before I bail?"
01/12/2014 marked as: read
01/12/2014 marked as: dnf

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason The self-professed Timithy Zahn fan isn't fond of military sci-fi? :)

Crystal Starr Light Zahn doesn't do all military scifi. I'd say "A Coming of Age" was most definitely not military scifi. In fact, probably my least favorite, non-Star Wars Zahn book is in fact "The Blackcollars", which is essentially military scifi.

This is one of the downfalls of getting books "free". You are still required to read/review, but what if you quickly realize it isn't your thing? Too still have to review it!

message 3: by Jason (new)

Jason Well, you are an awesome reviewer/writer. You should start a blog or something.

Crystal Starr Light Aww, shucks! I've thought about doing a blog, but I've been worried about managing one solo.

message 5: by Jason (new)

Jason Just start one up and post your reviews. Tinker as you go. It doesn't have to be all that or something that requires management. I recommend Blogger. You can create it through a gmail account.

message 6: by Iset (new)

Iset Now I feel guilty for not yet getting round to setting up the joint blog I keep suggesting.

Crystal Starr Light Don't feel bad, Isis!! Things have been crazy for me; we'll get around to the blog :)

message 8: by Jeremiah (new) - added it

Jeremiah Marks Regarding the ageing thing: In the previous novels Mike and Cally both gain access to regenerative technologies that decrease the effects of ageing and can also impart various skill sets to the user.

Cally (Mike's daughter) became an agent very young in life. She was separated from both mother and father early on due to their military deployment. She started fighting the Posleen in her early to mid teens when they started landing on Earth.

Regarding the Hoth reference: the Posleen invasion nominally started around Y2K so it is still near future. Having star wars references would not be out of line at all.

Crystal Starr Light Jeremiah, thanks for these updates. This is the unfortunate part of jumping into a series so late (something I *hate* to do and really only did here because this was an Amazon Vine book and required a review).

Though it shows (to me) that this book would probably not be a good starting point to those unfamiliar with the series.

Jordan No one else has mentioned it yet, but this isn't the middle book in a series, it's the first book in a new series that culminates two other story lines (Mike's story line that's 4 books long, and Cally's story line that's 3 books long) as well as 3 separate individual side stories. that's why so many characters and races are seemingly dropped in with no description, it presumed you read the 10 books preceding it. I agree with some of your other critiques about confusing numerous spellings for races (the Posleen have their own name for their race range with the Darhel) and there are numerous examples of poor writing styles.

Ringo is very good at writing the military aspect if the story and about the technologies involved, but the character development and motivations are bland or unimaginative. Also later in the book there is some seemingly politically incorrect characterizations of non white human races.

I understand your frustration with the book and the need to write a review, but it's really on Amazon sending out a book that had ten books if back story built in.

Crystal Starr Light Jordan, thanks for the clarification about it being part of a new series with old characters.

However, as I explained, I selected this through Amazon Vine and the product description didn't mention that needing to read the rest of the series. I mean, if it's a new series, you may think you could pop in at book 1, but it's obvious this isn't the case. And the Vine Program requires you to post reviews of products you receive.

I'm sure people who like military scifi will like Ringo, which is why I consider those comments "it's not you, it's me" or "your mileage may vary".

But I HAD to post a review and I wasn't enjoying the book due to various reasons so I did not finish and left it at that. I would not hesitate to recommend this series (after reading the earlier books!!) to fans of military scifi.

message 12: by Victor (new)

Victor Pontbriand So what compelled you to write such a lengthy review after you wentt DNR at page 61. In fact how dare you post a review at all. my hackles rise whenever I C misogyny in a review, Always seems to be a liberal catch word.

Crystal Starr Light Victor I had to write a review because this was an Amazon Vine book. I could have powered through a book I wouldn't have enjoyed and given a lower score or DNF.

Honestly people like you aren't satisfied. Damned if I post a review, damned if I don't. Damned if I read the whole book and hate if, damned if I don't.

How about instead of letting your hackles rise over a random stranger's DNF review, you stick to reading and writing reviews of your own?

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