Audiobook Review: Salvage Merc One by Jake Bible
Genre: Science Fiction, Military Science Fiction
Publisher: Severed Press (January 17, 2016)
Tiara’s Rating: 3.5 stars of 5 stars
A review copy of this book was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Narrator: Andrew B. Wehrlen | Length: 6 hrs and 56 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Jake Bible Fiction (March 11, 2016) | Whispersync Ready: Yes
Joe Laribeau is an ex-Marine sergeant who was discharged after losing both his legs. His legs are replaced with battle legs (metal legs that allow him to run pretty swiftly and hold up well), but the military still feels that he’s too expensive an asset to keep and discharge him despite his “battle clarity” which is kind of like a self-contained, discount version of Jedi Battle Meditation. Joe starts collecting a pension and roves the galaxy for a while before being recruited by Salvage Merc Eight, Hopsheer Balai, for the Salvage Merc Corp. The SMC was created to fill a void in the galaxy. They’re a neutral entity that came into its own during the height of a galaxy wide war between the Galactic Fleet–which I think is a military conglomerate of like-minded aliens–and a warlike alien species known as the Skrang.
The SMC salvages important technology, supplies, and people (among other things) while doing retrieval mission and obtaining information that may be valuable to others. Being neutral means they give both sides a fair chance at obtaining some of the things they salvage by auctioning them off to the highest bidder. They also try to maintain fairness by not allowing one side to get more powerful than the other and acting in the interest of non-aggressive planets. Following an attack that Joe survives, he’s tasked with finding the merc to rule all mercs–Salvage Merc One.
To say that this book didn’t get go where I was expecting at all would be an understatement. Okay, that’s not exactly true. As far as space-faring mercenary stories go, this one did follow the basic formula. However, based on the synopsis, I expected a more serious tone than what the story actually gave me. This was largely a humorous story that brimmed with action and a little intrigue. Joe was a funny, endearing character, and it was an excellent decision to tell this story from his POV as it makes it very easy to connect with Joe. Narrating Joe’s story is Andrew B. Wehrlen, and he was a great choice for this book. He does an admirable job of capturing the humor of the story and Joe’s personality. He managed to find distinctive voices for most of the characters, and I thought he did a fair job on the female voices which can be a little hit or miss with me where male narrators are concerned.
The supporting cast of characters aren’t as fleshed out as Joe aside from maybe Joe’s partner who is described as a mix between an armored beetle and a Great Dane and tends to spout random facts. Regardless, Bible introduces us to many new races in this story, and while we learn a little about some of their physical characteristics, we don’t learn much about them beyond that. Given that this book is supposed to be a fast-paced military merc story, I don’t think these characters suffer from not being explored as the action is the driving force behind this book, and it doesn’t fail to entertain.
There are a few portions of the story that left me a little foggy. One very big instance is when a story that is being told to Joe, but readers are never actually told the story. It’s skimmed over, and all I know is that it involves a questionable death. Beyond that, there’s no revelation or consideration for the reader even though it leaves Joe speechless. Then, there’s the ending. I have mixed feelings about it. It sort of dived over into the science-fantasy genre for a bit there, which I love, but I don’t know if that was exactly the best ending for a book of this nature. It felt too whimsical, a little too overpowered for this, even with the considerations made for the story.
I enjoy military science fiction, but I don’t get to read it as much as I’d like. This definitely appealed to that part of me that enjoys stories in this setting. This sets up an interesting universe for a series (I’m assuming this will be a series), but works well as a standalone book. Now, if you excuse me, there is some Mass Effect calling my name after reading this. Time to go save a galaxy!