Archive for the ‘Novels’ Category

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Author Rhett C. Bruno weaves a sci-fi detective story set a few hundred years in the future, in which long-time bounty hunter Malcolm Graves is given the task of finding a bomber who decided to strike on one of Earth’s most celebrated holidays. However, Malcolm gets an unexpected surprise when Pervenio Corp., the company he tracks bounties for, decides to team him up with a partner named Zhaff from their new and highly secretive training program. Malcolm is not overly fond of working with a partner, particularly one as young and inexperienced as Zhaff, but he soon realizes that he may need all the help he can get in order to crack this case.

Bruno crafts a noir-style, sci-fi narrative, with some heavy action elements peppered throughout. Malcolm Graves, the grizzled bounty hunter who’s only in it for the money and the booze is a character that we feel like we’ve met before, and Zhaff, the by-the-book, almost robot-like partner is another trope of the detective genre most of us are familiar with. That being said, the author gives each of them just enough quirks to provide just enough depth for both of them. Occasionally these main characters feel a little thin, but never to the point where it becomes a distraction, or difficult to read.

The story takes us on a journey from Earth to the moons of Saturn, but for all the distance that gets covered, I feel like this is where the novel is lacking just a little bit. A greater description of the worlds the characters visit would have made for a more immersive experience that the reader could get lost in. Bruno gives us enough detail to understand where we are, and I will admit, the descriptions and immersion do get better as the book goes on, but the earlier chapters have a somewhat sterile quality about them that made it a little hard for me to actually get into the story in the beginning. However, as the story goes on, and some of the strands begin to weave themselves together, the picture that gets presented is ultimately one that I enjoyed.

Rhett C. Bruno gives us a narrative not unlike some other sci-fi detective/bounty hunter stories that we’ve encountered in the past. It’s not quite as complex or grand as some of those, but it does have a simplistic and streamlined appeal to it that makes for a nice change of pace from those larger, more complicated works. It won’t completely blow your mind, but it will keep you entertained.

The Verdict for Titanborn:
4 out of 5

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Stay nerdy, my friends.

 

 

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The latest book to join the Halo universe, New Blood by Matt Forbeck, is also the shortest. It details the story of Sergeant Edward Buck in his own words, and his experience as an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper for those not familiar with Halo lingo) before volunteering for the Spartan-IV Program. The book kind of acts as a little bit of a prologue to Halo 5, where Buck is already a Spartan, but the main focus is to add a little bit of depth to someone who’s really just a background character.

Forbeck does a pretty good job of making Sgt. Buck stand on his own as an interesting character. However, the story is somewhat generic. There’s really nothing new here in terms of the universe. At just under two-hundred pages, this is a short read for the really intense fans of the Halo extended universe. If you’re just a casual fan, I would say leave this one on the shelf.

The Verdict for Halo: New Blood:
3 out of 5

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Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Halo: Last Light takes place almost primarily in an underground cave system on an independent planet known as Gao that has tenuous ties to human insurrectionists. Citizens of the planet have been going missing, and recently, some bodies have shown up in the caves, leading to an investigation, and a chase for whoever might be committing the crimes. The Office of Naval Intelligence has deployed a team of Spartans to the planet to “help” in the investigation, which usually means there’s something pretty serious going on under the surface (no pun intended).

Troy Denning writes somewhat of a rarity in the Halo extended universe. This novel is almost completely self-contained. Yes, it makes references to other characters and events from the universe, but were it not for those, this could have easily been a random sci-fi mystery. However, with that being the case, I still enjoyed this novel a lot. The characters are interesting, the plot is interesting (even if predictable at times), and the story takes us to a place we haven’t been to before.

The plot moves along at a pretty swift pace over the course of a few days, but leaves enough calm and quiet scenes peppered throughout to keep from feeling rushed. We get appearances from a few Spartans (Fred, Linda, and Kelly) that have been in previous novels as well as some new faces from the short-lived Spartan-III program. Gao Inspector Veta Lopis is a feisty new addition to the universe who manages to hold reader interest, despite not being a soldier, let alone a Spartan.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It has crisp writing, which makes it one of the better novels to come out of the Halo extended universe since the Kilo Five Trilogy a few years back. It might not add a whole lot to the universe, but realistically, none of the books do at this point. Microsoft and Bungie leave the big stories for the games, but that’s understandable, and it doesn’t mean we can’t still have some fun with books like this.

The Verdict for Halo: Last Light:
4 out of 5

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Stay nerdy, my friends.

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One of the more recent entries in the Halo universe, Hunters in the Dark, by Peter David, focuses on a joint task force of Sangheili and humans who make their way to the Ark, the ancient Forerunner structure that assembled the Halos, in order to prevent the rings from firing after they were mysteriously activated once again. The story takes place a couple of years following the end of the Human-Covenant War and shows us the consequences of the actions taken by the characters at the end of the Halo 3 video game.

Peter David tries his best to craft an interesting story here, but at the end of the day it just comes across as bland. Sure there are tremendous consequences at stake if the characters fail, but realistically, it just never seems that interesting. Certain characters are introduced, only to fall by the wayside and be forgotten. The whole effort just seems a little shallow for a novel in such a rich universe of content. It’s missing the heart of Eric Nylund’s Halo novels, and the gravity and personal nature of the Kilo Five trilogy. However, It’s not all bad, there are some genuine moments throughout, and some of the new creatures introduced are pretty interesting, but ultimately, unless you’re a really big fan of the Halo universe, I’d say  you should probably skip out on this one.

The Verdict for Halo: Hunters in the Dark:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.