Terms of Enlistment is a newly written but old-school military science fiction novel. It follows the protagonist, Andrew Grayson, from high-rise slums through book camp, a combat infantry posting, and then out into space. The tone and style are similar to Robert Henlein's Starship Troopers or Jerry Pournelle's Co-Dominium. The action is up-close and personal, set in a universe where government isn't perfect, conflict isn't clean, and the military gets to play hero on a small scale whilst the overall morality of the conflicts they take part in is constantly questionable.
At least in this first book of the series, the action is well above average for the genre. In any fire-fight it is easy to visualise where everyone is and what is happening. The technology is plausible, and is never used as a get-out-of-jail-free card by the author.
The main character is likeable without being super-human. He is no author-avatar with perfect military skills and likeable flaws. He is just a young, impulsive enlisted soldier.
The secondary characterisation is below par for a novel. Whilst Kloos does a fantastic job of "show, don't tell" with army life and the background political unrest and intrigue, friendships and even romances just appear out of nowhere. After a major plot-turning firefight, most of the casualties are really just names to the reader despite their importance to the main character.
The plot arc isn't well structured either - although I think this is really an artefact of the way the series was written. I get the impression this is an episodic series broken arbitrarily into novel length portions, in which case the first half of the novel is really establishment of the series plot rather than the novel. If considered as a single novel the initiating event comes around 3/4 of the way through the book. Up till then it's a good read, but it comes as a surprise to find that it's all really just scene setting.
These issues aren't enough to spoil the book. Go into it imagining that you're listening to the first 10 episodes of a 5 season audio show, and they become style rather than problems. I'm certainly going to give the second book a try based on the first.
The audio performance by Luke Daniels is okay, but I imagine it might irritate some people. He has an overly-dramatic tone which rolls consonants and stretches vowels. This suits the book, but is a bit wearing on the ears. He does voices prettty well, at least for the main characters. It's hard to imagine him as actual voice of the first-person narrator though, which takes it a star down from the really top notch audio book performances.
This is the first Chapter of the "Ender's Game Alive" audio play. As I set out in my review of the full work, I think it is one of the best versions of a Sci-Fi classic. The story is a bit polarising though - it isn't to everyone's taste.
This taster is representative of the full thing - if you're wondering whether to invest in the audio play, then download this one for free and listen. It's only 20 minutes long, and if you like it, I'm pretty sure you'll like the full thing.
I first read Ender's Game when I was in early high school. It deals with some rather dark subjects - child soldiers, bullying, and pre-emptive "self defence" on both a personal and civilisation level.
The central plot concerns "battle school", an orbital facility for training child geniuses to command fleets and armies against the "buggers" - traditional insectoid space invaders. The protagonist, Andrew "Ender" Wiggan, has been pre-selected as commander-in-chief, and his experience at battle school is carefully designed to shape him as the perfect leader, regardless of the emotional or physical cost to Ender and the other students.
The original novel is almost entirely from Ender's point of view, with small and ambiguous interludes from adult perspectives. This new production is an audio play. Since nothing can be directly described, scenes that were previously from Ender's point of view are now recounted as conversations between the adults, significantly expanding these roles. This works very well, creating a simpler, cleaner story.
Some small changes have been made to the story, increasing or decreasing the significance of various scenes, but without removing or adding major plot elements.
The side-plot of Peter and Valentine Wiggan, Ender's siblings, has been retained but reduced in size and importance.