I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. Last week’s got bumped, due to space limitations (election returns) so this week’s review is original – a book I felt worth reading, but had not had a chance to previously.
‘Shadow Warriors’ offers enjoyable science fiction reading
By MARK LARDAS
Nov 11, 2018
Shadow Warriors, by Nathan B. Dodge, Wordfire Press, 2018, 394 pages, $18.99 paper, $5.99 e-book (kindle)
They are five teens with family problems. Cal’s dad is a drunk. Letty’s parents are too busy fighting to care about her. Tony is homeless after his drug-addict mother died. Sasha’s foster parents see him as a payday. Opi’s stepmother wants Opi’s inheritance – even if that means killing Opi.
Shadow Warriors, a science fiction novel by Nathan B. Dodge opens showing these five’s family situations. The teens soon have bigger problems. They have been secretly drafted to fight in an interstellar war.
If their side loses the other side, The Horde, will colonize Earth – after destroying all life on Earth, and remodeling the planet for them. What is more, they cannot defeat The Horde. No one has in several millennia. Instead their force is intended to turn The Horde away from Earth, before The Horde learns of it.
Cal, Letty, Tony, Sasha, and Opi are only a few of those chosen by another non-human race that is also fighting The Horde. They have picked thousands of teens that will not be missed, and spirited them off Earth for training. Our five protagonists have never met before. They dislike each other, yet they must meld together as a team, to crew a Shadow Warrior: a stealth, interplanetary war craft designed to fight The Horde’s space navy.
The novel is space opera mixed with war story, coming-of-age tale, and space adventure. Dodge updates the classic World War II training camp and aircraft carrier battle story to a near-future space story, The protagonists are young, with strengths and weaknesses. The battle scenes are well-thought out. Logistics proves as important as tactics.
Dodge reveals his secrets – the backstory behind why these teens were recruited, how the Horde really works, and the deep secret of the recruiting aliens – with impeccable timing. It keeps the plot moving, and draws readers into the story. He shows the five becoming the recruiting class’s crack team while avoiding entering Mary Sue and Marty Stu territory.
Shadow Warriors is marvelously entertaining reading. An updated Heinlein juvenile – an exciting science fiction story featuring teen protagonists – it ends making you want more.
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.