Review: A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson

Reviewed by Jen

I have read some fantastic sci-fi romance is lately and I am always on the hunt for another one. This book was one recommended to me by Goodreads because of the Linnea Sinclair books I’ve read. With its four star average and library availability, I did not hesitate to snatch it up. But while it is futuristic and science fiction-y, be warned, there is no romance here. Not even a little. None.

This is military science fiction. The heroine is precognitive and knows the world is on a devastating trajectory. The only way she can save it is to become a marine and affect the course of events.

The first half of the book follows her training. It is pretty much like the basic training you would find in any modern day movie. Her body is pushed to its physical limits. There is the whole thing about breaking her down and building her back up again. There’s even a hell week. The second half of the book follows her through two years of service on a ship and the missions she undertakes.

It wasn’t a bad book. If you dig marine stuff or you’re really into sci-fi action sequences, this book will be golden for you. For me, I’m not sure if I will continue with the series. Yes, I would have loved a romantic interest, but it’s more than that. Ia, the heroine, essentially can’t fail. With her ability to see the future, she knows almost every outcome of every decision. As a result, almost the entire book reads like a grocery list. Ia recognizes she has to do something, fight someone, or be in a particular place at a particular time, in order to create the future she wants. We see it play out. Nothing ever really goes awry and I get the impression that it can’t. Because she’s psychic. Sure, she might get a little beat up from time to time, but think about the implications in the heroine knowing everything that is going to happen and just executing her plan to perfection over and over and over again. It’s hard to drum up any fear or concern or really any feeling for her at all.

Another problem I had was the fact there was way too much detail. I remember at one point the author spent several pages detailing different types of ammunition and their abilities. I don’t really care that much about that. I don’t care what 1000 different metals are for. And sadly, I didn’t care about the dozens of characters that came in and out of her life with no emotional connections. I’m not just talking about romance, I’m talking about interpersonal stuff even among friends. Ia has to view everyone as a chess piece. And they come and go from her life with very little fanfare.

And finally, there wasn’t really a clear story arc. This was essentially a linear progression of her journey to get to a lieutenant. No big foe was conquered. No master plan revealed. Just Ia doing one thing on her list, then the next thing, then the next thing. And then it was over.

I don’t know if this book did enough for me to make me care what happens next. I have to think about whether I want to continue with this series.

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Soldier’s Duty
by Jean Johnson
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Ace

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