Brad Wheeler's Reviews > The Slab

The Slab by Karen Traviss
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's review
Jun 21, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: audiobooks, science-fiction, tie-ins
Read from June 21 to 28, 2012

Call this 3.5 stars.

It took me awhile to decide how to rate this book. On the one hand, I'm a fan of Karen Traviss, and when it comes to military-style action there are few better writers (funny how the best military SF seems to be tie-in novels...). This book is no exception, and if it had been nothing but action and dudes being badass I would've rated it higher. Those sections were awesome.

But there's a ton of navel-gazing in between the action. The book is mostly about Marcus Fenix and what he did to get sent to the prison where he begins the Gears of War games, as well as his time there. But, Marcus isn't a viewpoint character, so we never really get what's going on in his head. Instead, we get tons of people thinking and speculating about what's going on in there, instead of actually doing stuff. A few characters (Hoffman in particular) do almost nothing but mentally flagellate themselves for putting Marcus in prison and making him suffer.

Still, most of the characters were well drawn, and the setting is properly dark and tragic. The prison was a lot more interesting than it could've been, since it was pretty much a colony of terrible people that was isolated but not really controlled by the prison warders. The interplay between the guards, the other prisoners, and Marcus were some of the book's best moments. And, of course, when the bullets inevitably started flying, it was un-put-downable.

I'd recommend this to anyone who liked the Gears games or likes military SF in general. Maybe buy the paper copy so you can skip past the navel-gazing, but definitely check it out.

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Reading Progress

30.0% "A tragically miscalculated "short cut" to yesterday's commute meant I got plenty of time to listen to this in the car."

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