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Wednesday Book Review: Mutineer March 3, 2010

Posted by kmcalear in Book Review, Book Series, Critiquing, Friday Flashback, Science Fiction.
Tags: , ,

This is a re-post from the launch of our blog 2 years ago, going along with some of the Friday Flashbacks we’ll be reposting some of our book reviews for your reading pleasure, with updated rating.

Today’s review is Mutineer by Mike Shephard

Genre: Science Fiction/Militaristic

Age: Teen, adult

Content: Violence

Overall: 1/5  paws


The plot of Mutineer had good promise. Kris is the daughter of a wealthy political family on the planet Wardhaven who rebelled against her parents by joining the military, something a respectable daughter doesn’t do. In the meantime, Kris is having to prove herself truly dedicated to the military while also avoiding multiple assasination attempts. As the plot goes on, the ‘Society of Humanity’ also is on the brink of Civil War with the outer colonies fighting against Earth and the inner colonies.
The cons:  The character development was thin and cliched, at best. The plot was slow to get into and you were left with a sense of ‘yeah right’ as Kris, a green Ensign, manages to out think her commanders, outfly a computer and outwit a group of criminals who had managed to defy several teams of planetary police. In the meantime, the action of the rescue is jarred by flashbacks to Kris losing her brother to a kidnapper many years previously. Unfortunately, the emotion is so thin that it’s difficult to feel compassion for Kris and the flashbacks seem trite and contrived to justify the heroine’s mental vacilations over rescuing the girl. The ‘rich kid rebelling’ theme is done to death, with commanding officers, politicians and even university students in a bar deciding to ‘shun’ Kris because she’s a ‘Longknife’. (Although cool name!) They constantly force her to prove herself, even though her family has a very long military history. In addition, Kris’s family is enough to make me scream. She has grandparents who she has to nearly break laws to visit, parents who are barely friendly and she describes her family as essentially a political battlefield. You have a tough time understanding why Kris would ever even bother to speak to her parents.

The pros: About halfway through the book the plot manages to pick up. I enjoyed the plot itself after Kris gets sent to a planet where she has to help with relief. Kris still manages to ‘save the day’ and show up everyone around her, but I was able to accept the idea more because her commanding officers had been assigned there mostly as punishment for screwing up or lackluster work, so their lack of efficiency was believable. The book allows for some reconciliation between Kris and a couple of her family members, but for the most part the characterization is fairly static. The main thing Kris learns is to take responsibility for how her decisions affect other’s lives, but personally and professionally she starts out a Super Soldier and ends a Super Soldier.

The Verdict: Shepherd’s plot managed to save the book, but his characterization and the emotional depth of his characters is thin, at best. I didn’t mind the read, and I’m glad I forced myself through the first half but I’m not sure I’ll be picking up any others of the series.



1. Sandy M. - April 21, 2011

Hi there – I really agree that the series is awfully formulaic. Although if there’s nothing else to read, the fifth book Audacious (which is as far as far I got) is almost worth reading. But, if you do like the formula, Elizabeth Moon has written quite a few books that bring the characters to life much more excitingly.

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