Orphanage/Orphan’s Destiny – Robert Buettner

Once bitten twice shy right? I recently bemoaned having trusted the author blurb on the front cover of a book. Well, I did it again, and this time it worked out. So much for that theory.

Heinlein would have enjoyed this exciting homage to Starship Troopers… The near future Buettner paints is as believable as it is terrible. — Joe Haldeman

Well damn. Haldeman, the author of Forever War, thinks that this is on the level of Starship Troopers? That I will believe. In fact I put off reading the first book until I had the entire series. Boy am I glad I did that. I read book one, couldn’t put it down, read book two, realized I had a midterm coming up, and proceeded to painfully put book three back on the shelf until further notice. Aaaaaargh.

I could possibly see rating this series up there with Forever War, Starship Troopers, and Armor. I have a few problems with it, but it is an utterly enjoyable read. I think it lacks some of the deeper meanings are found in some of my other favorites. I would actually put this somewhere between Haldeman/Heinlein/Steakley and Webber/Ringo. It’s not pure fun fluff, but it’s not really that deep. At least not yet. It does have some of the things that I usually complain about, characters just falling into convenient circumstances, things so unbelievably lucky that suspension of disbelief doesn’t quite work… I’m willing to let it pass though due to mitigating circumstances. The action is not only fun, but believable, the science is believable, and the concepts realistic and possible. There are perhaps some underlying messages and lessons to learn, but it just hasn’t hit me as hard as Armor. I suppose not every book can be up to that level, but I really do enjoy books that encourage me to think differently or question things. I do like the worldbuilding though. Not quite post-apocalyptic yet, the mid-apocalyptic setting is realistic and interesting, although once again not terribly deep.

Whatever I may think about this series, it is indeed eminently readable. I will be undertaking to read the next three books as soon as possible. Very seldom do I find such a page-turner like this that I just can’t bring myself to put down. If it keeps up I believe this series will likely earn a permanent place on my bookshelf under the “Enjoyable, could easily read again” category.

Our [lounge] had a manual Foosball table with one of the little men broken off, a tray of yesterday’s mess-hall cookies, coffee, and ancient orange furniture covered in the skin of animals so extinct I’d never heard of them. Really. I read the labels. “Naugahyde.”