Review: Sixteenth Watch by Myke Cole

44047421._sy475_A whole lot of sci-fi has crossed my radar as of late. I can’t help myself. This one sounded interesting.

So thanks to the author, as well as Angry Robot for the review copy.

The Coast Guard must prevent the first lunar war in history.
A lifelong Search-and-Rescuewoman, Coast Guard Captain Jane Oliver is ready for a peaceful retirement. But when tragedy strikes, Oliver loses her husband and her plans for the future, and finds herself thrust into a role she’s not prepared for. Suddenly at the helm of the Coast Guard’s elite SAR-1 lunar unit, Oliver is the only woman who can prevent the first lunar war in history, a conflict that will surely consume not only the moon, but earth as well.

“Wen. I did not stutter. In all your years working for me, have I ever backed off an idea once it was fixed in my head?”

“I was kind of hoping old age would mellow you.”

“Death. You’re describing death.”

“That’s an extreme interpretation of what I was describing.”

“Just shut up and get it done, XO.”

This one sounded really interesting. You don’t typically see spacey military sci-fi about the Coast Guard, for one. When one thinks of space, one does not generally think of the coast. However, in most sci-fi I’ve read, space and the faring of it by human military forces is typically more… maritime? So, for all intents and purposes, space is the sea, and the borders that exist within it between the US and other territories needs to be guarded.

This is the story of Jane Oliver, who is a Coast Guard Captain who loses her husband in a pretty big tragedy that nearly starts a lunar war between China and the United States. When things continue to get more and more heated, Oliver takes a posting as an Admiral and finds herself training a group of officers to win the newest most popular gameshow: Boarding Action. Winning would get the Coast Guard the sort of recognition that would prove that they are a better, less war-hungry option when it comes to guarding US territory on the moon.

This was a well written story, and it felt very authentic and realistic in terms of the jargon and so on that is used throughout. I mean, I was expecting that it would, as I know enough about the author to know that he was in the Coast Guard. So, it did have a very believable and realistic feel about it, even despite it taking place more or less in and around the moon.

I did like Admiral Oliver, and especially the banter between her and her XO, Wen Ho. Oliver is a character who is easy to cheer for, because she is often in a situation where the odds seem stacked against her, but I found that I had a lack of interest in their mission as a whole. The whole novel revolves around the Coast Guard, as the underdogs of militarized space winning this game show because it will take the spotlight off of the Navy and the Marines (who are actively getting a bit too hostile in the direction of the country they should absolutely not go to war with). So, there is a fair bit of the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard getting in each others’ way. That’s probably fairly realistic.

Perhaps it’s just a little too far outside of my wheelhouse, but I found that I was losing interest when it became very heavy on the jargon and politics between the different branches of the military. Basically, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I do however think that anyone who digs military sci-fi should give it a try, because there’s a huge chance they’re going to have quite a lot of fun with it. I am one of three people I know who have read it recently, and the other two liked it quite a lot! There is quite a bit of banter that balanced the seriousness of the mission with a bit of lightheartedness. Unfortunately, it didn’t balance it quite enough for me. I think this is very much a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’ with this book and I. I don’t dislike miltary sci-fi at all, but I think this one and I just didn’t 100% click. Sorry, Sixteenth Watch. 3/5 stars.

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