3 out of 4 stars
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Flight of the Black Stork by Bill Broocke is an action thriller with science fiction elements that follows Matthew Blalock, an American and a former fighter pilot, as he embarks upon a mission to stop aliens stationed on the moon from destroying the planet. While the narrative focuses on him, it also jumps around to various governmental and corporate ventures relevant to the potential alien apocalypse, painting a broader picture of how people in power responded to the alien threat. This almost always blends together quite well, creating a suspenseful and action-packed narrative with intrigue, well-researched technological elements, and an overarching feeling of impending doom.
For the most part, I was quite impressed with the supporting cast. I particularly liked J.B. McCall, a man who rose above the especially nasty form of racism of Texas at the time to amass a great deal of wealth in the oil industry. I also can't go without mentioning Yakov, the Russian war hero who joined Blalock on his mission to destroy the alien base. His gruff demeanor and sense of duty were wonderful foils to Blalock's rebellious nature. These characters and many others in the book have a natural charm, leaving readers respecting even the primary antagonists for how committed they are to their goals. It's frankly impressive how well their distinct personalities and various conflicting interests meshed together into a cohesive narrative.
Unfortunately, the characters I wasn't impressed with were spectacularly bad. The biggest example of this is Leanna, a genius who is so obsessed with having sex with men that she has cultivated herself to be irresistible to any man - that is until Blalock shows up, resists her charms, and calls her an "unadulterated bitch". This causes her to stop having sex immediately and re-evaluate all of her life choices, because, apparently, she has never met a man who she couldn't coerce into having sex with her. Her relationship with Blalock seems to come from mutual desperation more than actual attraction, as he is fresh off of a divorce - ironically, he has far more chemistry with Yakov.
The book was remarkably polished with regards to writing style, and the dialogue flowed quite well, particularly during the action scenes. These were used sparingly and very effectively, with enough buildup that the ultimate explosions and life-and-death situations didn't become stale. There were many typos, though, including several issues with commas that impeded understanding. I'm not too fond of the occasional information dump about the defense systems and planes created to fight the aliens, but this can be rather common in some types of science fiction novels, so even that isn't too distracting.
Overall, I'm left with rather mixed feelings about this book. It has characters that are portrayed stunningly well and stunningly awfully, alongside some of the best action scenes I've read in recent memory and some rather odd typos. At the end of the day, though, I still think it deserves 3 out of 4 stars. If the author ever learns how to write romance effectively - or simply omits it, which is an excellent option - I'm very excited about future books from him. As long as you don't mind skipping over every scene where Leanna shows up, I'd highly recommend this to all fans of action and science fiction hybrids.
Flight of The Black Stork
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