- Mystery for the story is interesting
- The science aspect of the story is more realistic
- Starn’s character feels all too familiar to Larson’s other protagonists
- Story takes a little bit long to get to the point
- No other characters are as engaging
First Strike! Review
First Strike! by B. V. Larson starts off slow with its world-building and introduction of characters, but as the main mystery of the book is revealed, the story becomes more engaging.
Devin Starn is a low-class miner who is sold into indentured service as a miner among the stars when his background is discovered on Earth. Devin’s parents, con artists who abandoned him when their scheme was uncovered, are nowhere to be found in the story, but it’s their abandonment that eventually allows Devin to become a part of discovering an answer to one of humanity’s greatest questions: are we alone?
The story starts off a bit slow, taking most of the book to to paint a dreary future wherein Earth and its residents are enriched through the exploitation of others in mining valuable resources throughout the solar system.
In this universe, Mars is colonized and is slowly being terraformed into something more habitable. Meanwhile, large corporations dominate space, and all of them compete for cheap labor in a universe where capitalism reigns unchecked.
It’s in this unchecked capitalistic universe that Devin finds himself trapped in a spiraling cycle of debt. Devin’s attempt to break free is stymied by the mountain of expenses he incurs: room, board, and even air all come with a price that exceeds his earnings as a miner.
Human life, especially those humans who have no wealth, are worthless in this universe, with mining equipment being prioritized more over human health. This belief is illustrated early in the book when Devin saves the life of a miner only to be scolded for damaging equipment.
That every breath in space takes resources shouldn’t be a surprise. In fact, it’s this more realistic attention to the details that makes the story feel a bit more realistic.
For fans of Larson’s other works, particularly Undying Mercenaries, Devin Starn will feel very familiar. His serendipitous luck, his focus on women, and his brutish strength are all reminiscent of a certain immortal Legion Varus man.
Other characters in the story feel a little bland, with no real endearing qualities among them. Those characters who do have distinguished qualities—the accountant, for instance—aren’t very close to Devin because of his background. But as the story progresses, perhaps their shared bond will lead to more character development.
Where the characters may be a little lacking, at least in this first book, the mystery of the story makes up for it. What Borag and its crew discover on their last ditch effort to break free of debt reveals a mystery that has the potential to change human history.
What’s worse is that this discovery leads to some unsettling consequences that are yet to be revealed.
First Strike! by B. V. Larson takes awhile to set the foundation for the series, but once the story picks up with the introduction of the mystery, the book, and the series, become much more interesting.
Read reviews of other exciting military science fiction books by B. V. Larson.