Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In Terms of Enlistment, Andrew Grayson is a slum-dweller who joins the military for three good/real meals a day – unavailable on the outside – and a decent chance at an enlistment payout if he survives his five-year commitment. The book follows Grayson into the North American Commonwealth armed forces. Born in one of the huge slums in the Boston metroplex, the military offers the poor and the desperate a chance out. In the military, he’ll eat real food, possibly get a chance to go off world, and, after his five-year enlistment period ends, he can cash out and buy a nice little place in the suburbs. Or so he is led to believe.
The military is divided into Army, Marines, and Navy, and while Grayson wants to go to space, it’s to the Territorial Army he goes, rescuing embassy employees from civil unrest and quashing riots in metroplexes like those Grayson grew up in. At first, he’s ashamed, but he quickly learns that this is where the action is and he develops pride in his unit and in himself. This military is, of course, co-ed like all sci fi militaries tend to be and of course the bathrooms are co-ed, but even this stretches the imagination when you learn the bathroom stalls have no doors. Okay, that’s just weird.
As indicated, riots are common in the metroplexes, and after a particularly nasty one in Detroit, Grayson is injured in what is more or less street-to-street urban warfare. Badly injured and unfairly accused of using excessive force, Grayson transfers to the Navy, where his boot camp girlfriend is.
Things change suddenly at this point. He goes off to computer network training and does well. He gets himself assigned to his girlfriend’s ship. They fly off and the two of them share as much intimacy as possible. Then, something radical happens that changes everything and they find themselves on an alien planet fighting for their survival.
It’s a nice twist, somewhat unexpected, although the very ending becomes slightly predictable as the ending progresses. Nonetheless, satisfying. I found out that this is a self-published book. I have no idea why. It has the look and feel of a professionally published book. It was recommended to me by Amazon when I was browsing around and that’s the first time Amazon has ever recommended that type of book to me. And the quality of writing was quite high for a self-published book. Sure, I know some such books are quite good, but the vast majority are not, so I would have thought a traditional publisher would have picked this up. Whatever the case, I seriously enjoyed this book. There’s a lot of tension, a lot of action, moderate character development, decent plot development, the writing is quite good, the battle scenes are excellent – this is very good military sci fi and reminds me of Joe Haldeman. I don’t know whether to give if four or five stars. I’m reluctant to give books five stars unless they’re quite good, very good. In this case, the book held my attention, was a page turner, maintained my sense of tension and interest, impressed me with its military tactics, impressed me with the second half “surprise” I’ve alluded to. I guess I can’t think of any real reason not to give it five stars, so I guess I will. Five stars. Recommended.