~~From Red Adept Reviews~~
I received PELGRAFF, by D.A. Boulter, as a review copy submitted to "Red Adept Reviews" by the author.
Overall: 5 Stars
Plot/Storyline: 5 Stars
The plot of this novel wasn't quite what I expected, based on the blurb. Pelgraff is a first-person war novel. It's all the wars of Earth rolled into one on a faraway planet, in an age where war is unthinkable. If you like war stories, you will love Pelgraff.
The novel begins with a bang; a lot of characterization and setting were crammed in the first twenty pages, without seeming heavy. The first act of the novel introduces more characters and sets up plenty of tension, between various sets of characters as well as with the war itself. The rest of the novel is nonstop action, but the author tucks these excellent moments in between battles, revealing character, letting plot details emerge, painting the world of Pelgraff with yet another vivid hue.
As I said, this is a war novel, but it's not a fairy tale. Never having been in war, I can only compare it to books and movies I've seen, but it compares favorably. There is gain and loss, there is attrition and unexpected aid. In an age where war is extinct, McLean and his troops fight because it is the right thing to do.
The end of the novel was not a surprise, but it was still entertaining. The open ending left me eager to believe that McLean's story carried on without me.
Character Development: 5 Stars
The novel is told from Alan McLean's POV, but the other characters are all well-developed too.
McLean suffers nightmares that adapt organically to the new horrors of war, giving insight into his deepest fears; he's very aware that he's a flawed person. His racism toward the Pagayans softened organically as time went on; I really enjoyed how that was handled.
Colleen's on a mission, as is her son, and nothing can distract her from it; I didn't expect her to have such a deep character. Reporter Moira James has already clashed with McLean, but on Pelgraff, she experiences more than one change of heart. Tro Cirret was an excellent character, tough but fair, and rightly suspicious. Other minor characters, of which there were many, did a fabulous job of filling out McLean's world: Tro Prenon, Danner, Talbot, Tra Telmi, Jane Tammerin, even Sophie the cat. Pelgraff felt real because the characters felt real.
Writing Style: 5 Stars
I love the way Alan's personality colors the tone of this first-person POV novel. Hard-boiled and crisp, with an old soldier's wry humor and a mastery of saying much with few words. I couldn't put the book down; I read it straight through, and a lot of my interest was because of the engaging writing style.
Weapon names, troop movements and strategic locations pepper the text without obscuring the action. Dialogue was short and to the point. The level of description was sufficient without being overwhelming; the characters were the stars, and the settings played excellent backdrops.
Editing: 4 3/4 Stars
The only issue I noticed was a regular use of run-on sentences.