Trained To Kill. Haunted By The Past. Fighting For Their Souls.
Everything is dangerous in Afghanistan, nothing more so than the mission of a Tactical Support Team or T.S.T. All veterans, these men and women spend seasons in hell, to not only try and fix what’s broken in each of them, but also to make enough bank to change their fortunes.
But seven months later, safely back on American soil, they feel like there’s something left undone. They’re meeting people who already know them, remembering things that haven’t happened, hearing words that don’t exist. And they’re all having the same dream… a dream of a sky that won’t stop burning.
The American Library Association calls Weston Ochse “one of the major horror authors of the 21 st Century.” He has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, Publishers Weekly, Peter Straub, Joe Lansdale, Jon Maberry, Kevin J. Anderson, David Gerrold, William C. Dietz, Tim Lebbon, Christopher Golden, and many more of the world’s best-selling authors. His work has won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico Arizona Book Awards.
A writer of nearly thirty books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson and his military sci fi trilogy, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war.
Weston has also published literary fiction, poetry, comics, and non-fiction articles. His shorter work has appeared in DC Comics, IDW Comics, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, Cemetery Dance, and peered literary journals. His franchise work includes the X-Files, Predator, Aliens, Hellboy, Clive Barker’s Midian, and V-Wars. Weston holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and teaches at Southern New Hampshire University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, and fellow author, Yvonne Navarro and their Great Danes.
I was familiar neither with Weston Ochse's work nor with military fiction before this book. I can't say I was disappointed.
My main criticism is that the book should have been trimmed down significantly. At 420 pages, even though I enjoyed it for the most part, it felt like it would never end. Not to mention that the ending was rather abrupt, even though other parts are stretched to hell and back, like the author just wanted to get it over and done with. I mean, true, other parts of the book were way "juicier" than the ending, but I do think it could have been more satisfying (for us and the characters) after that entire ordeal.
That said, I still enjoyed the book. I liked the most, and I like that it kept me guessing at every turn. I still think it should have been trimmed down, though.
**Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book**
I really enjoyed this book. I’ve said elsewhere that Weston’s short fiction moves with terrifying grace, but his novels have a muscular poetry to them. Burning Sky, his newest novel, moves with urgency and forcefulness with the precision of, well, a military combat team, which just so happens to be the center and beating heart of this fascinating novel. It starts already rolling hard and continues, with some twists and turns and an elegant mystery that sneaks up on you along the way, to a cataclysmically great ending. Ochse’s inclusion of Zoroastrianism (a word, I have learned, I have a terrible time spelling without digital help) is inspired and really caught me in its grasp – I realized how little I actually know about it – so it offers a rich and intricate world for readers to discover, delivered by Weston’s assured voice. Wes makes you care about this menagerie of hard-bit soldiers, drawing you in to feel like you’re part of the team, and then he does horrible things to them. And he fucks with your head while he’s at it. If you like brilliantly rendered military fiction, if you like cosmic horror with new and interesting takes on mythology (seriously, he opens the door a crack for you by the end, exposing the potential for so much more), it’s not a book to be missed. Thankfully, there are more stories coming in this series.
Closer to "American Golem" (from Operation Arcana) than the single Seal Team 666 novel I read. The back half of the novel works better than the first half but the abrupt ending left me feeling a bit unsatisfyed. I'm unsure if there are more novels planned here but I would love to see Ochse explore the metaphysical aspects more in future endeavors.
There is a long and storied tradition of military science fiction. One author Weston Ochse knows well. His last trilogy of novels were firmly in the vein of that sub-genre best known for classics like Forever War and Starship Troopers. As for military horror there are random novels here and there but the undisputed master of this sub-genre is Weston without a doubt. Starting with the Seal Team 666 trilogy that were like a special forces take on the X-files. This sub-genre was inevitable and in less capable hands it could have been very hard to handle.
Weston has experience, he has served in Afghanistan and over 55 countries that brings us to Burning Sky. There is one human being with that much military experience who also teaches English and creative writing. Who else could write such a heavy novel set is Afghanistan that combines experience, horror, fantasy and has a thoughtful message. On top of that Burning Sky is well written and explores the very nature of violence and war that plagues our species. Yeah that sounds heavy because it is.
This is also a fun novel at times, with entertaining action, monsters, ancient gods and Philip K Dick worthy time shifts and alternate realities that will remind readers in all the right ways of Jacob's Ladder. There is a What the hell is real twist that is so well executed I was shocked when Weston told me in a e-mail that he has not read much PKD. That is a round about way to say this is a mind expanding cross genre read that I can't recommend enough.
Much like his last Grunt trilogy Burning Sky is very much about PTSD, but Burning Sky takes that theme and goes beyond. This novel is about what drives war. It explores the deep trauma not just of the warriors but society. The book points to key moments covered by the news in the last few conflicts that lead to Trauma that we felt collectively. The theme is expressed so beautifully in some of this novel's most horrific moments. As a writer, reader and fan of Weston I honestly pumped my fist in the air at one of these moments.
I enjoyed the Seal Team books, I like Grunt Life and respected the heck out of it. Burning Sky is masterpiece that I am more impressed by the longer I think about it. If you like your horror, political and thoughtful I would say you should pre-order this novel. It will be on my best of the year list for sure.
Couple of notes on this review:
1) We have a already recorded a long form audio interview with Weston Ochse for the Dickheads podcast that will be posting in a few weeks. The first half is spoiler free. The second half is a serious deep dive into the craft of the novel. I recommend reading the book and listening to the whole thing. Weston has alot to teach us. Updated with full interview link:
2)I have to say off the bat that I was torn. When Weston Ochse offered me a chance to read his as yet unreleased new novel I was excited but he didn't have physical books yet. I am not much of an e-reader and trying to upload this PDF to my kindle taught me that it didn't work anymore. Thus this was my first experience reading an entire novel on my phone. That was not easy for me. So my process for tagging pages and taking notes was a little off.
I've heard a lot of good about Weston Ochse. I hadn't read any of his stuff previously, but I had already bought four of his books and put them in my To Be Read pile. So, it's no surprise that I was eager to read a book by him. Well ... weirdly the book both lived up to my expectations and yet left me disappointed.
Boy Scout, real name Bryan Starling, is in charge of an Tactical Support Team in Afghanistan. He and his team are escorting a General to a meeting when things go bad. Flash forward six months and Starling is dealing with some issues: overweight, out of shape, and working as a muscle for a small-time crook. He realizes that he has had enough and needs to face the problems he has been avoiding. And that's all I will say in order to avoid spoilers.
When I was reading the book, I powered through the first half in two, maybe three days. I was loving it. And then I hit the halfway point in the book where everything changes; once you get to that point, you'll know where I mean. For whatever reason, things quickly slowed down for me at that point. Maybe it was the new reality that I had to deal with. Maybe it was the tone switch of the book. Maybe it was just life keeping me busy with other things and distracted from the book. Whatever the reason was, it took me a while to get back into the book and finish it. The story and writing were both good. The characters were real and not cardboard cut-outs but at the same time, I stopped caring about them after that halfway point. I think that was due to the reality shift; subconsciously, and even consciously, I was waiting for another reality shift to occur and undo parts of the story. Don't get me wrong; I'm not claiming "foul". Ochse followed his own rules that he established in the book. And while the effect is very similar in tone to the movie From Dusk till Dawn, it does not have that "WTF?" craziness. The shift was still enough to make the reader re-evaluate the events of the story and, for me, that included re-evaluating the characters. I suppose I'm in a similar state to what I was before I read this book: I'm eager to read my next Weston Ochse but this time I'm eager to see which type of book I will get.
[I was sent an ARC by the publisher, via Netgalley, in return for a fair and honest review]
I have never served in the military, and it seems increasingly unlikely that I ever will given my advancing age, advancing stomach size, and an variety of fears that can probably be encompassed under the general term of ‘intense cowardice’. Only being a civilian, therefore, I’m extremely aware that I can only have the vaguest notions of what it is like to serve in the armed forces: the experiences to be had in visiting countries overseas and becoming immersed in different creeds and cultures; the horrific and unpredictable effects of being in combat; and, perhaps above all others, the fundamental nature of the intense camaraderie that forms between soldiers serving together in a unit, a brotherhood (and, increasingly, sisterhood) that is formed through sweating and bleeding and fighting together. As a result of this, there is a fundamental gulf – a social and cultural disconnect – between civilians and veterans, and there are relatively few ways that this can be bridged by veterans in an attempt to communicate their experiences to the rest of society.
The written word is one of those bridges, and active and former soldiers have written books for millennia in an attempt to convey their world view, a tradition that carries on to this day: one need only wander into any bookstore, new or second-hand, to see row upon row of books by veterans of conflicts, particularly modern-day ones like Iraq and Afghanistan. However, I hope that it is not too controversial a point to highlight that not all of these books are actually good – that while they attempt to convey a viewpoint, many are not really that well-written or engaging, often despite the assistance of ghost-writers or editors. As such, it is always something to celebrate when you come across a piece of military fiction that has been written by a veteran or serving soldier who is also skilled as a writer. The latest example that I have come across is Burning Sky by Weston Ochse, an author that I’d been aware of previously, but never quite had the time to pick up any works that he had written. However, when Netgalley advertised that Mr Ochse had a new title out, which was categorised under ‘military horror’, I knew that I had to request an advanced review copy in order to read and then review it.
The story of Burning Sky intrigued me, telling the tale of a group of former US Army veterans who have become private contractors – a Tactical Support Team in modern parlance – and returned to the Middle East in order to earn more money and try and change their fortunes for the better after being scarred – physically and mentally – by years of combat abroad. But when a supposedly simple mission – escorting a general officer on an ‘off the books’ mission deep into Afghanistan – goes terribly wrong, the TST return home to the United States only to find themselves plagued by problems that go much further than the physical and mental toll that comes with being a veteran. A horrific shared dream haunts them whenever they sleep, and team leader Bryan Starling – nicknamed Boy Scout – finds that complete strangers seem to know him intimately, and claim that he has met them before, and often done terrible things to them that he knows with utter certainty have never occurred. It’s an interesting idea that immediately hooked me from the very first page, and before long I had been drawn into the pages of a tense, atmospheric and action-packed military thriller that slowly but surely morphs into a novel of cosmic horror.
When I started to read Burning Sky I assumed that I would be looking at a fairly ‘conventional’ horror novel with a military theme – perhaps some kind of ‘creature feature’ that saw the TST members hunt down some occult or extra-terrestrial threat in the deserts of Afghanistan. But as I read on, it rapidly became clear that although there were elements of this, it was actually so much more than the sort of pot-boiler that often litters the genres. Instead, what Mr Ochse offers up is an open and starkly honest portrayal of the mental and physical costs of fighting in a modern conflict, which in turn becomes subtly integrated with elements of cosmic and body horror as time goes on. Boy Scout and the rest of his team have been scarred, and even broken, by what they have seen and endured in the Middle East, and there’s some absolutely first-rate characterisation as Ochse introduces each member of the TST to the reader and highlights how they have reacted to coming back to home soil, managing to deftly maintain the balance between not sanitising the effects of the war and also not falling into stereotypes and tropes. To take just one example, Boy Scout has become a problematic alcoholic upon his return, and fallen into a distinctly violent and disreputable job, but Ochse readily generates sympathy for him without belabouring the point. Each of the characters in Burning Sky is fully fleshed out and realised, and none can be described as two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs. Even when, later on in the novel, characters native to Afghanistan are introduced, they remain interesting and even vibrant personalities that have obviously had thought put into them by the author.
Excellent characterisation is allied with some brilliant writing, and a plot that moves along at a steady pace, tension and atmosphere rife; but just when you think you have a handle on the book, Mr Ochse introduces those horror elements into the mix and hurls you into an increasingly taut and unsettling plot. People that Boy Scout see begin to have static-filled, glowing faces that are genuinely disturbing in the way that Ochse describes them, and you can almost physically feelthe character’s reality begin to distort as they try and figure out why things are happening to them. Indeed, one of the main themes of Burning Skyseems to be the nature of reality for a veteran, and how a universe already frayed by the costs of combat and other human-made horrors can be far too easily snapped entirely by the introduction of occult elements.
It’s rather difficult to try and discuss the latter half of the novel without introducing massive spoilers to anyone reading this review, so I’ll have to try and talk in generalities. However, the nature of the enemy that the members of the TST discover is both fresh and engaging, and Ochse expertly blends together Western military expertise with Middle Eastern mythology and cultural details to create a unique backdrop to the novel when the TST return to where it all began for them. By the half-way mark, the plot has begun to twist and turn until it has worked itself into non-Euclidean shapes, and such is Ochse’s skill as a writer that even I as the reader became suspicious of everything that the characters were encountering, sharing in their paranoia about the nature of their reality and what level they were truly operating on. Truth in Burning Sky becomes an entirely subjective and worryingly malleable thing, and there are layers to the plot that means careful re-reading is needed to draw out all of the subtle implications and themes that Ochse has seeded the book with.
Burning Sky is a fantastic novel that I enjoyed every minute of reading – engagingly written, sharply plotted and laced with both cosmic horrors and the entirely human-made horrors of modern war. I firmly believe that it represents the pinnacle of the military horror genre, and will be difficult, if not impossible, to surpass.
BURNING SKY is written with all the professional polish of a thriller you'd buy at the grocery store (in a good way), with perfectly efficient prose that slides the reader swiftly through the book's fast-paced action. In fact, I found myself wishing that I was reading a straight-up thriller, period, since the supernatural elements of BURNING SKY felt at times awkward and shoe-horned in, even though that's the angle of the book.
In this novel, former Army Ranger Bryan Starling and his former teammates, members of a group contracted out to serve military support operations in Afghanistan, find that since their return to America from their last mission, they're experiencing a lot of inexplicable phenomena, including linked dreams, speaking in tongues, and meeting people for the first time who've claimed to have met them before. Halfway through the book, the reader is presented with the first twist that is meant to be the first part in explaining why--but the twist is so out of left field and poorly explained, I nearly put down the book.
The rest of the book unravels layers of betrayal, lies, and conspiracy to gradually reveal to the characters the truth behind what's happening to them, which has the unfortunate side effect of keeping the reader equally confused as to what's actually happening until close to the very end. This confusion can also extend to scene transitions: while Ochse has occasional and welcome flashbacks within the narrative to better flesh out setting or characters, the insertion of them sometimes feels clumsy, and it could take me a moment to figure out where in time or space I was supposed to be as I was reading.
Additionally, there's something off about Ochse's characters; more specially, in the unpredictable way they relate to, express, and experience their own feelings (sometimes succinctly and maturely; sometimes, with a wild shift in tone). I've heard that Ochse had been lauded elsewhere in his writing for his realistic depictions of PTSD, and I'm not sure if the peculiar emotional reactions of the characters in BURNING SKY are in fact very realistic (are they all meant to have PTSD in some way, and I just don’t spend a lot of time with people who do, and so I can't recognize it?) or if this is in fact a flaw in the writing.
Still, the writing is so smooth, the pacing is so brisk, and (at least for me, who doesn't read a lot of military fiction), the setting and premise are so novel, it all made up for a lot, and I found myself enjoying the ride overall. Plus, I ended the book feeling like I finally had a firm handle on the universe and the stakes, and its last line is a killer of a cliffhanger. So while I had my doubts in the middle, I was sold by the end, and I'll be happy to read the sequel.
In Burning Sky, Weston Ochse starts the novel off with introducing us to a drunk ex Army Ranger named Starling who woke up in his own vomit. Starling, a few years out of the military served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, he has let himself go and is about to do a job for a man named Larson. There he meets Joon and her son, who he is suppose to kill. Starling decided to save them both and in doing so went through a fight. Throughout his Journey of saving them, he met up with his old friends, Mcqueen and Lore. While with them, Starling experienced a vision called a psychopomp, which could determine the death of Starling. They all decided they needed to go to Afghanistan to finish whatever it is that is causing the visions. Starling and his crew discover that they apparently had killed a supernatural being on one of their missions. They later get into a huge battle scene with this supernatural being who came back. Starling kills it by shooting it and screaming, War is God. When it comes to watching movies and tv shows, I love action and supernatural movies. This book was the perfect combination. I fell right into it once I read the first sentence. Ochse does a great job of catching attention of the reader within the first couple pages. The style he writes in keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. If someone is going to pick up this book, you will need to learn a little military language and difference between branches. Starling and his crew would often say things that I have never heard because I don’t understand the military “language.” One of the best parts of the novel though is the development of Starling. At first, he is seen as a bad guy because he is about to kill someone for a reason he doesn’t even know. He later begins to care and save for all the other character’s in the novel. This essentially meets his goal of becoming his old self. Overall, this book will put a smile on your face, but at the same time keep you wondering what will happen next even when you finish reading it. I would recommend this novel to veterans, action and adventure lovers, and supernatural fans. The genre would be Supernatural with a little bit of action considering all his visions and the final battle. I believe somebody should read this book because reading about Starling slowly become a better person is enjoyable and listening to the bond between him and his crew shows true friendship.
The wars of Afghanistan continue to rage on. For one group of soldiers that are a Tactical Support Team (or T.S.T. for short), are brave men and women who have seen the throes of battle time and time again. Finally home from their missions, they each begin to have a vivid dream. A dream that brings them back to their times of war, and a dream that as they find out, they all share together. What this dream truly means, none of them know, they can only speculate. What they know for sure though, is that to find out what it could be, and how it impacts not only their lives but the lives of others, is they must make the harrowing journey back to Afghanistan, amidst the bullets and IED's, to know the truth, no matter the cost.
In his latest military thriller, Weston Ochse takes us on a tour of Afghanistan, its soldiers, and its unrelenting landscape that brings so much heartache. His telling of these soldiers, what they have endured and what could possibly bring them back, is a wonderful change of pace from your typical thriller or horror style military excursion. At times the tale becomes a little overwhelming in description of the intricacies of what brings the group back (I can't go into detail here as it would spoil the story!), but aside from that is was a very good read. Overall I'd give this a solid B, and thank Weston for the opportunity to check out his latest writing adventure early via an Advanced Ready Copy for a fair and honest review.
Seven months after Boy Scout's Tactical Support Team returns from Afghanistan, he, along with his team, are struggling to acclimate back to civilian life. When he begins reaching out to his old team, they realize one by one that they're all having the same disturbing dream. Collectively, they agree to return to Afghanistan to try and find answers to the questions haunting them.
I was particularly interested in this novel because of the comparisons to the work of Cormac McCarthy, who happens to be my favorite author, and because the idea of military horror intrigued me. I can't say I didn't like it, but given my preconceived notions it just didn't live up to my expectations. The writing was not on par with McCarthy, and the plot seemed a little hard to follow at times, but I powered through because I connected with some of the characters and particularly liked the military details that Ochse included. Because Ochse is a veteran, he has a lot of experience and knowledge in this area and it shows. I struggled to rate this because I found the pacing a little jarring and the ending a little rushed, but I'd give it 2.5 stars rounded up to 3 for the first-hand insight into the military and those who serve. I'd definitely check out other work by Ochse for that reason.
I ran across Burning Sky in Barnes & Noble and the premise intrigued me. While I’m not really into pure military dramas, especially since I served 24 years in the Air Force and am pretty sick of it all, this one was a bit different because the blurb on the back hinted at a science fiction element. I decided to give it a chance.
The writing was superb, with solid third-person limited, past-tense. The narrative was brisk and the story never dragged. To a point. There were a few times, especially in the middle, where the author’s Cormac McCarthy worship really came through and things got a bit weird. However, overall, the writing never got in the way of the story.
That made for an addictive read.
I had a great time through some pretty high concepts all the way until the end. While the end was okay, it still left me a bit flat, and only partially satisfied. After reading the thanks at the end, the author once again attributed it to Cormac McCarthy, an author I cannot stand.
If not for that, this would’ve been an outstanding read. It was in so many ways, right until the ending. I’m still mostly happy with it, but still a bit unfulfilled. Overall though, I recommend this novel and writer. He does a great job for the troops in the sandbox.
"Burning Sky" by Weston Ochse is filled with blood, pop culture references, and more blood. Following a team of five, the first half of the book is them dealing with not being in the army anymore, in their own ways. Some chose drugs, some chose food, some chose both, and one chose tinfoil clothes and techno music. Then they're given something to focus on, brought on by their leader, Boy Scout. He consistently feels like he's a character in a book, however. They're trying to save a young boy and his mother. The story is told from Boy Scout's, or Bryan Starling's perspective. But something's wrong, the boys mother says that she knows him already and knows what he's going to do to them. How can she when Bryan doesn't even know what he's going to do himself?
[I was sent an ARC by the publisher, via Netgalley, in return for a fair and honest review]
I really enjoyed this one. Speant most of the book trying to figure out what the hell was actully going on which was part of the fun since neither I or the characters seemed to have a clue what was happening. The reveal was even werider then what I had been thinking about and that was even better as that sort of thing hadn't even crossed my mind and that made things even better.
The main characters were all enjoyable and none of them got really annoying which is always a good thing.
Would recommend to people who like science fiction and/or militery fiction which is on the werid side of things.
This was an okay read for me, the reason I haven’t given it more stars is probably due to me rather than the quality of the story.
I’ll start my saying that military sci-fi is a pretty new genre for me and having read it I think it’s just not a good fit. I went into the story expecting something akin to World War Z (not sure why other than the fact that Burning Sky conjured up visions of post-apocalyptic landscapes) and that isn’t what I got.
The story is really long and I thought it dragged a bit in places, but again some of that was probably due to false expectations on my part. It’s very well written and the characters well defined though.
This book will undoubtedly work for lots of people, I’m afraid I’m just not one of them.
This book is a roller coaster, where nothing is as it is and illusions are real. Our protagonist aka Boy Scout must navigate a dangerous world full of fanatics, ancient beings and his friends, in the middle of Afghanistan with the Taliban wanting his head.
An action-packed book with references to the Sufi branch of Islam and a deep delve into it. This was an interesting read.
What I liked -The plot twists. -The non-linear plot. -Characters are spot on. -Correlation of military and civilian elements.
What I don't like -The plot twists become a bit too much sometimes, it maybe confusing for some readers.
Recommended for -Scifi Fans -Thriller Fans -Action Fans
I have written before about my struggles with military sci-fi, and this one, at least on the presentation, appeared to be different. And on one hand, it is - the approach to this story, especially with the characterizations in play, feel very different than with other efforts I've read or tried to read. But what this didn't do is deliver beyond that - the take still felt stilted and sterile, and the ideas and conceits for me just failed to connect.
This wasn't a bad read - many who love this subgenre are praising this effort. For me, though, it just failed to connect. That's more on me than anything on the book.
If Philip K. Dick and Cormac Mcarthy’s works had a love child that went to war... it would be Burning Sky. This is a phenomenal book in so many ways. The melding of Zoroastrianism, Sufi mysticism, and the questions of consciousness and reality all set in the battle arena (and elsewhere) were epic. As with most of his writings, Weston Ochse brings a visceral description of the myriad ways Psychic trauma leads to different manifestations of PTSD is present. I would say this is the most compelling book I have read this year. I highly recommend it!!!!
Military sci-fi isn't a branch of the genre I dip into all that much, but this is a fast-reading and interesting example of the genre. The characters are believable enough, though there are some grace notes that felt really stereotypical. One reveal (or was it?) from McQueen sounded a real off-note. The theology of the narrative sometimes felt strained. Having said that, I'm sure I'll read the sequel.
Totally separate from the rating is the D- the publisher gets for the shoddy copyediting. It's like I was reading a proof copy that hadn't yet been edited. Zorastrians? Essentially a wingding instead of a non-standard character?
I don’t usually read military fiction but I’ve heard so much about Weston Ochse that I had to give it a try. Not sure what to think of this one. There are so many twists that is was kind of hard to keep up with the story. And the jumps in time or sideways or whatever,,. But the action was good and enjoyable and there are many things that I learned about what it is like to serve in the military and what happens to soldiers after they return home. How they life can never be the same after all the suffering they saw.
This is the first book of Ochse’s I have read and I was very excited about it. I felt the storyline held up pretty well until the abrupt ending. The book reminded me a lot of the movie Jacob’s Ladder where you are never sure what is reality and what is not. While there are many notable differences he abrupt ending did add to the effect. Part of me is rooting for a follow up novel and part of me hopes there isn’t as more it is reality and it’s not reality would just increase the multiple storylines and confused characters.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
REVIEWED: Burning Sky WRITTEN BY: Weston Ochse PUBLISHED: September, 2018
A reality-bending novel of military horror from a contemporary master of such genre. BURNING SKY is a mix of action, PTSD, and philosophy, as a group of soldiers try to understand and defeat the mystical god-like daeva (or their human priest counterparts!) while self-containing in an underground cavern. It’s a bizarre roller coaster, to be sure, but well worth the dizzying loops and dives it takes you through, from gun fights to astral projection!
If you've ever read Weston Ochse, then you'll know what I mean when I say that his scifi military horror is heart-wrenchingly real. With BURNING SKY, Ochse writes with his trademark grit, authority, and heart, ambushing you when you least expect it with emotional IEDs then bending your mind with wild imaginings and sober philosophy. Read BURNING SKY and chase it down with his GRUNT LIFE - Task Force Ombra series. You can thank me later.
I'm still not sure how I feel about this one. The action was great. Enough action to satisfy anyone, but it felt like the narrative was forced into too much introspection in a couple of places. The plot twists were good but almost too many, if that makes sense. First, they blew up someone or something attacking them while escorting a dignitary, then.....
Bryan "Boy Scout" Starling and his TST, are not adapting well to civilian life having returned from Afghanistan and the whole team seem to be on a constant downwards spiral. All is not as it seems, as they find out they are trapped in an artificial environment. This is a good story with some nice twists, it does get a little bogged down in the latter third, but still a good conclusion.
Burning Sky is a surprise mashup of military action, horror, science fiction, and religion. Ochse gets compared to Cormac McCarthy quite a bit in blurbs, and McCarthy is mentioned in the book quite a lot, but the comparisons aren’t because of style or talent so much as the authors’ use of violence while exploring universal themes. This book is much deeper than you would expect.
I read 190 pages to give it a chance as I really liked the Seal Team 666 books before deciding life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy.
Didn’t really bond with the characters and, while I think there could well be a decent twist at the end of the book to make it all work out at the end, I couldn’t face reading another 100+ pages to get there.
I did not enjoy this book at all. And it was not for a lack of trying. I made it all the way to about 62% through, and then thought enough is enough. I can only take so much. And I really tried. But I just could not go any further.