Book Review: Unbreakable

Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers, The Chronicles of Promise Paen #1

The colonists of the planet Montana are accustomed to being ignored. Situated in the buffer zone between two rival human empires, their world is a backwater: remote, provincial, independently minded. Even as a provisional member of the Republic of Aligned Worlds, Montana merits little consideration—until it becomes the flashpoint in an impending interstellar war.

When pirate raids threaten to destabilize the region, the RAW deploys its mechanized armored infantry to deal with the situation. Leading the assault is Marine Corps Lieutenant and Montanan expatriate Promise Paen of Victor Company. Years earlier, Promise was driven to join the Marines after her father was killed by such a raid. Payback is sweet, but it comes at a tremendous and devastating cost. And Promise is in no way happy to be back on her birthworld, not even when she is hailed as a hero by the planet's populace, including its colorful president. Making matters even worse: Promise is persistently haunted by the voice of her dead mother.

Meanwhile, the RAW's most bitter rival, the Lusitanian Empire, has been watching events unfold in the Montana system with interest. Their forces have been awaiting the right moment to gain a beachhead in Republic territory, and with Promise's Marines decimated, they believe the time to strike is now.

Already last year Unbreakable appeared on my to read radar. At that time I was highly enjoying military fiction written by a different W.C. namely W.C Dietz and his Legion series and Legion Prequel series, in which the later also has a kick-ass female protagonist. Added to this comes the fact that I am a sucker for a good cover and Unbreakable has this as well. Some sort of army recruit is what seems to be high-high tech equipment. If such a cover and of course a promising plot doesn't get you in the mood, I don't know what will...

The story of Unbreakable centers around the army recruit Promise T. Paen, who currently serves in the marince Corps of the Republic of Alignd Worlds and who originally came from the plant of Montana. At a young age Promise saw her father murdered at the hands of pirates, who seem to have taken Montana as the place to cause raids and trouble for everyone. Seeing her father being murdered in cold blood Promise decided to enlist with RAW MC so that's how she got there. And Promise is bent on getting revenge so she is there to stay as well. When you first get to meet up with Promise I directly knew that she would be an interesting character. Of course she is at the beginning of the ladder, she is a recruit. But her history is working in her favor or perhaps disfavor, depending if you are looking at it in the long of short haul... Promise is assigned a new mission that will bring her back to her home planet of Montana. Her superiors have made up their mind to send her to the planet, because besides being a good marine, she has the distinctive advantage of her background. The return to Montana isn't without a hassle as Promise immidialty proves her battle skill when they appear right in the middle a pirate attack following up on these events in a talk with the president of Montana Anne Buckmeister who next to the pirate attacks on her planet has something planned for the appereance of Promise as well, and thus you can imagine that the story takes a turn from a compeltely military focused story to a story that is also filled with some galactic politics... That might work for the negative of the RAW... Now Promise has to negotiate two difficult and tough ways, the one in leading her fellow marines as by her valor shown in battle she has gained some promotions but also being a face for Anne Buckmeister.

When I read science fiction and in particular military science fiction I like to see guns, tactics and gear. Well, you get to see plenty of this in Unbreakable. W.C. Bauers opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to showing this aspect. From the pulse rifles where you get a complete lowdown of how they work to the coordination in battle and the mechsuits that the marines use it's all pretty darn awesome! I think this really is, for majorities sake, a guy thing. I wanted to blast with such a pulse rifle, I think it will make a bit more noise than the guns I used in laser tag. Anyway, some people might think that the descriptions used by W.C. Bauers are a info dump I found them most welcoming, it was most fitting to the general and way that the story was told.

But for me it takes more than just naming things, and here W.C. Bauers, in writing the battle scenes doesn't fail as well. I wanted to see big battles fought in space and tight corner battles fought on land and this is precisely what I got in full detail. The battles fought were shown to be hard and difficult and no one is safe. There were some characters that you were introduced to on page 1 and were killed on the next... The pacing of the story was nicely boosted by the tight and tense action scenes. 

Now don't go thinking that this is all jsut about shooting with space ships and pulse rifles. There is much more to the story of Unbreakable than just that. Promise is a very solid character, I liked her from the first word, though I think she does have some quirky habits. For example she carries a for that time, ancient Glock, inherited from her mother through which she communicates with her mother. Now whether this is real or just a figment of her imagination remains to be discovered. However when it comes down to fighting she is a real killer. Added to this is that W.C. Bauers created a nice learning curve for her character, as I already stated she begins as a recruit and slowly started to climb the ladder. With becoming more than just a grunt, comes responsibility. Something that Promise isn't afraid to pick up. I just have one minor squabble, the story is told through her eyes and of course you still get to experience the full story by it, it did want to see more secondary character development overal, as the focus for me was just a bit too much on Promise herself. 

If you are looking for a fast paced and more than action packed story, you are at the right address by reading Unbreakable. W.C. Bauers has written a solid debut in the lines of several big voices in science fiction. He shows that he knows what he is writing about and that he is confident in what he puts on the paper. I especially liked the emphasis on the military features in the book and lets not forget the kick-ass heroine that is Promise T. Paen. Added to this comes very good balance between the military action part of the book and the bigger picture with some very interesting politics later on the book. The Chronicles of Promise Paen are of to a solid start with Unbreakable!


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