Orphange by Robert Buettner (blog, website) is Heinlein’s Troopers without the mechs and Denise Richardson.
The good news is: The novel highly enjoyable. If you hate military books then this one will not turn you off. If you hate “the chosen one” type of story lines then you’ll like this since Jason Wander our protagonist is nowhere near the chosen one. Those who hate deep descriptions of war and blood: There’s barely any and if it is, it’s quick and nowhere near horror movie standards.
The bad news is: It’s too damn short. The Slugs, the antagonists are two letters away from Bugs from Troopers and while generally are different enough; they’re a mindless enemy.
The worst news: The epub format for iBook circa 2008 is atrocious but book #2 looks to have fixed that.
The overall plot: Jason Wander is orphaned by a Slug bomb and after slugging a high school teacher he ends up in front of a judge that gives him a choice: Either you straighten up or else. Well the or else is Military and one more offense and off to boot camp he goes. The world Jason lives in is the near future but there are no flying cars or space ships. It’s a rather believable future and after several Slug bombs are dropped many of the finer comforts are eliminated and the novel ignores its possible future roots and its boot camp in almost any war setting you can imagine post Vietnam.
The curtain is pulled back on Jason and us while we find out that guess what: We know where the Slugs are and we’re gonna give them a whatfor! Oh, and by the way, we’re using thirty-year-old technology. Good luck!
The characters that inhabit the novel are memorable. The Boot Camp DI. The best friend that’s a flight jock, the intel boy with the robotic flying drone and then there’s Munchkin and Pooh.
Robert Buettner’s previous job as a Military Intelligence Officer pays off well and does no go overboard ala Tom Clancy, it’s short, sweet and to the point. He even manages to throw some history lessons in there without throwing up the: “It’s time to learn, children!” flag.
Overall, I think the rest of the series is worth your time.