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A Private Little War Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the first novel of a food critic, so I did not read the first pages with a high level of expectation! However, the basic premise is strong, the prose gallops along at a good pace and you start to care (a bit) about the characters.
The blurb on the book makes a comparison with Catch-22, which holds up very strongly; enough for me to worry that this is in fact a Sci-Fi pastiche of that very novel. There has been a Sci-Fi pastiche of almost everything but this already, so I'm pretty impressed that Jason Sheehan has found a gap in the pastiche market!
His `hero' Kevin Carter is almost as annoying to both his friends and his readers as Yossarian in Heller's Catch-22; - as needy, and as bloody, but rather more blood thirsty. Personally I could not help despising him, his entire gang of interstellar air mercenaries and everything about them other than their choice of kit. These guys fly World War I derived bi-planes; Camels, Spads, Fokkers, etc. It's all done to save money, to prevent escalation of technology on backward planets, to smuggle easily `under the radar'. It's a great concept, which is delivered with panache, intelligence and wit. (Incidentally why were they not given Albatrosses, the best all round planes of that conflict? In fact, why copy an actual plane at all? But, there you go, it's just a novel by a food critic.)
Catch 22, Like M.A.S.H, is widely reckoned to be about the Vietnam War more than the actual war it purports to represent. I do wonder whether this book is also really a `Vietnam' offering, taking the line that all wars are the same, all mess everybody up totally, etc. (I hated this presumption in Heller's Catch-22. Fighting Nazi Germany was NOT a pathetic waste.Read more ›
It sounds like Biggles in space, but it is easy to forget the space part as it is mostly just a story about how war is hell, which is at least 100 pages too long, and probably 200 pages too long.
The book starts with one of those Tom Clancey-type faux military memos, listing all the personnel sent on the mission which was a bit daunting. I was worried that it meant I would have to try to remember 50 or 60 names, ranks and personalities but really the story is all about one of them and only three others get much of a mention.
I got through to the end of the book, but it was a bit of a struggle because none of the characters was particularly sympathetic and I kept hoping there would be more exploration of the ideas, like the differences between regular and mercenary soldiers or parallels between the situation and various historical colonial adventures.
By the end I felt quite unsatisfied. The situation has so much potential that is not properly developed.
But, alas no, right from the beginning it gets bogged down in boring minutiae. The characters are unsympathetic, the plot meanders, the writing is sloppy and boring, the 'science' does not convince, even the updated WW1-style planes are not self consistent. What a shame, because buried in there are the bones of a cracking good story.
I did manage to finish it reasonably quickly, even with the excessive length, and the message might be considered a good one, so this rescues it a star above being the pits. However, I would not have bought it if Vine had not given me this review copy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this book interesting, exciting and annoying in equal measure. It seemed to give a nod of acknowledgment to Heller`s Catch 22. Nevertheless I enjoyed it.Published on 16 July 2014 by Amazon Customer
Like Avatar without the special effects and lots more mud; like Catch 22 but more repetitive and without the sharp observations and wry humour; Starship Troopers but overladen... Read morePublished on 20 Feb. 2014 by artemisrhi
Future war has been a theme of science fiction since H G Wells. As well as Martians in Surrey, we've had the likes of Heinlein's Starship Troopers, Haldeman's Forever War, James... Read morePublished on 23 Jan. 2014 by El Loro
I quite enjoyed this but I love Sci Fi so perhaps I'm biased. It felt like a cross between every war film you've seen in outer space. Read morePublished on 17 Jan. 2014 by L. Thompson
I really wanted to like this book. The storyline is intriguing and I settled down to read it full of expectation, but the tale is convoluted and difficult to follow. Read morePublished on 27 Oct. 2013 by T. Walker
An infuriating ending knocks one star off what was a grimly humorous steampunk homage to Catch-22, although other readers might feel that the ending is actually an affirmation of... Read morePublished on 7 July 2013 by Patrick Neylan
A Private Little War tries to strike a pose midway between the Forever War and Catch 22, but fails badly. Read morePublished on 27 May 2013 by R. M. Lindley
I liked the idea - a team of pilots flying WW1 planes on a planet just ripe for exploitation but I really found it difficult to like any of 'em - mercs fighting for corporates... Read morePublished on 26 May 2013 by A. J. Sudworth
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