RogerBW's Blog

Burn Cycle, Joel Dane 06 April 2022

2020 young adult SF, middle volume of a trilogy. Maseo Kaytu has done the previously impossible and operated one of the mysterious CAV weapons as its pilot rather than as a remote controller. What next?

As a story of soldiering, this is a fair bit more gritty than a lot of young adult material. Friends die, and not always for important reasons; sometimes it just happens. Various secrets have to be kept from some people and shared with others. Kaytu is sometimes on the simplistic side, as he takes most of what he's given at face value and an eventual act of rebellion shocks even him; but as a combination of someone native to this quite odd world, and an anchor point for the reader, he works pretty well.

There's more worldbuilding here, and speculation, and the gradual uncovering of how things fit together is great fun. The squad bond that was a standout element of the original book is back, and for that alone I'd recommend this series, for understanding a part of the military mindset that has nothing to do with uniforms and salutes.

"That vend"—Li pings a new machine in the corner—"will provide unlimited stim-chords at no charge. I'm legally obliged to inform you that prolonged use may cause psychosis and/or syncopal fugue."

"So we should use them wisely?" Werz asks.

"Either that," Li says, "or we should do the job."

This is a middle volume, of course, but it manages to be one with a climactic battle at the end, and big (though incomplete) revelations about what's been going on all this time. And at the same time it manages to remain human in scale.

"A single warhead. Worthless. It's like being a kid again, taking potshots at balcony parties with my mom's crappy old shell-gun."

"Tell me you didn't actually do that." M'bari stares at her. "Why fire a shell-gun at innocent people?"

"I was just a kid," Cali explains. "I didn't have a rifle."

It still feels a bit odd, perhaps because it's being written to appeal to people who aren't me, but it holds together through the problems. Strangely appealing.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Previous in series: Cry Pilot | Series: Cry Pilot | Next in series: Kill Orbit

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