3 out of 4 stars
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In the year 3028, Naiche Decker joined the Uniterrae Defense Corps (UDC) shortly after her grandfather Gus died, to the disappointment of her Chiricahua family. She felt compelled to join the fight against the dreaded aliens, the Eternals, who killed her mother, then a promising lieutenant commander in the UDC.
After ten years with the UDC, Naiche, now 28, is a second lieutenant with the Search and Rescue team, a dead-end post. Notorious for her obsession to avenge her mother’s untimely death, she is unpopular and has a reputation for being insubordinate and sexually undisciplined. Her one true friend is fast-rising First Lieutenant Con Kennedy who would defend her with his life.
When Kennedy is asked to join the mission to discover the origin of the Eternals and hopefully the means to defeat them, he convinces Naiche to join him. She agrees, even though she had a prior conflict with the captain of the ship, Matt Ricci. As their ship, the Lovelace, journeys into deep space, Naiche and her comrades face many unforeseen dangers. Will Naiche come home a better person? Will she come home at all?
I totally enjoyed We Have Met the Enemy by Felicia Watson. She built a future world that is believable and fascinating. Humans have conquered space and live in various locations (planets, moons, and other celestial bodies) all over the universe. Sexual freedom is the order of the day. (There are only a couple of intimate scenes, though, and they are very brief.) The Lovelace crew meets different alien races during the journey; some of them are open to friendship and able to communicate intelligently, and some are downright hostile. The sophisticated weaponry and equipment are impressive, and the intergalactic battles are riveting. The technical descriptions are easy to digest even for a science fiction nonfan like me. Relationships between superiors and subordinates and among peers are realistic.
My favorite character is Naiche. Her childhood experiences of losing her absentee mother at age ten and growing up with her grandfather and a dog have made her bitter and wary of close relationships. On the plus side, these experiences have made her strong, daring, and determined to fiercely protect the few who manage to earn her friendship and trust. I also like that she speaks the Chiricahua Apache language (a glossary is included) at opportune times in the story. The rest of the characters have interesting personalities. These include a Japanese linguist, the top brass that is a mix of males and females, and Naiche's partner dog, Corpsman Third Class Kayatennae. Character development is done seamlessly; the reader just realizes that the characters are already familiar.
The book, while primarily a space odyssey, also explores the themes of family, friendship, selflessness, loyalty, and love. Several scenes make the reader pause to reflect on these themes. It is sobering that even in the 31st century, humans will need these invisible essentials.
Each chapter has a well-worded title accompanied by an appropriate quotation that gives the reader a preview of what to expect in the chapter. The title and epigraph also summarize the chapter content perfectly. A fine example would be chapter 14 which has the title “To Speak the Truth” and a quotation from Henry David Thoreau, “It takes two to speak the truth – one to speak, and another to hear.”
The ending is unexpected and thought-provoking. It is certainly most satisfying and memorable.
I can go on and on about the book’s merits and would have gladly given it the perfect rating. Unfortunately, the editing was less than perfect. Unwelcome errors came into the picture; I noted unnecessary words, misspellings, and punctuation lapses. I hope the author can get these errors purged soon, so this story can fly even higher. For now, the book easily earns 3 out of 4 stars.
The book will be an exciting read for fans of space adventures. Those who would rather read about human relationships will not be disappointed, either. Women will like Naiche: tough and courageous, but with a soft heart that she hides well. I also invite those who like dogs to have a bite of this book. Let us meet the enemy and pray for victory.
We Have Met the Enemy
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