Book Review: Aftershocks by Marko Kloos
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 1 of The Palladium Wars
Publisher: 47North (July 1, 2019)
Length: 288 pages
Author Information: Website | Twitter
After how badly I crashed and burned with the last military sci-fi novel I picked up, I was a little nervous about starting Aftershocks. However, my worries were allayed as soon as I began reading the first chapter and was introduced to Aden, a former soldier who fought on the side that lost and who now finds himself held in a prison-of-war camp. Pulled into this scenario straight away, I learned more about this world as the story progressed: it has been five years since the brutal inter-planetary war ended with a peace treaty, beating back the once proud Gretians who had instigated the conflict. The system has been rebuilding itself ever since, though there is still a lot of bad blood and animosity among the different peoples. Many lives had been impacted by the war, and there are some survivors who will never forgive the Gretians for what they did.
Idina is one such person. She’s a Palladian with a grudge, now part of the occupying force on Gretia making sure history won’t repeat itself. For the past five years, patrols with her platoon have been quiet and uneventful, until one day they are ambushed by an unknown enemy. Idina watched seven of her squad mates die, and this was just one of more deadly attacks to come. In another part of the system, Lieutenant Commander Dunstan Park of the Rhodian Navy is in space guarding the seized Gretian fleet when suddenly, all the inoperative ships are destroyed in a series of explosions, billions of tons of firepower wiped out in an instant. It appears that the peace is not as stable as believed. And now, Aden receives the news from his prison overseer that his captivity is about to come to an end. Thousands of Gretian PoWs like himself are about to be released back into society, allowed to return to their homes. But Aden isn’t sure how well he’ll integrate back into the real world. After so many years, a lot has changed. On Gretia, their once proud military has been neutralized along with sanctions placed on their economy. Solvieg is a young executive who was just a child during the war, and after the fighting was over her father had the company he founded taken away from him. Now due to a loophole she can reclaim it back for her family, but with the current tensions in the political climate, she finds being in the public eye might not be the best idea.
Normally, I would have trouble reading an “afterwar” book. After all, it’s hard not to wish you were reading about the actual war instead of the aftermath, when all the fighting is done and all you’re left with is the tedious cleanup. But not so when it comes to Aftershocks. Marko Kloos looks at the question of “what now?” through the eyes of four very different but equally engaging characters, each of them providing a unique and interesting perspective. Military SF is a tough genre for me to begin with, but I was eased into the narrative with Kloos’ smooth writing style and his ability to make you care about the people you are reading about.
On the topic of characters, Aden was by far my favorite. Defeated but not broken, he offers a fascinating look into the mind of an ex-soldier who now must come to terms with the atrocities committed by the Gretians and make a new life for himself in a world that despises his people. But you might be happy to know his storyline is not as bleak as it sounds. A natural problem solver, Aden uses creative ways to get himself out of tight spots, taking readers on one adventure after another. My second favorite character was Idina, who isn’t shy about making her opinions on Gretians known. That said though, she’s no one-trick pony with a single feature that makes her special. Kloos’ characters are multi-layered and complex individuals who evolve with the story, as Idina illustrates. Even the other characters who might not have stood out as much, like Dunstan and Solvieg, have important roles to play, giving us a glimpse into other areas of the system as well as the culture and challenges in the post-war climate.
And that, in essence, is why Aftershocks worked so well for me. I loved Kloos’ world-building and how deeply everything felt connected. Our characters don’t live in a vacuum; they exist in a complex network of social and political interactions, with the environment affecting their actions and decisions. This to me is what good military SF is all about, not just long-winded descriptions of high-tech weaponry and war strategies. Yes, this book had its share of action and violence, but it was also balanced with incredible story development and character building. The setting gave me a sense of a living, breathing universe, one full of feeling and meaning. All of it made me want to know more.
Unfortunately though, Aftershocks closes rather abruptly, leaving us with a “to be continued…” ending and lots of unanswered questions. If you don’t like being teased like that, I would highly recommend waiting until the series is completed before reading this book. Still, while I won’t deny being slightly frustrated with the sudden cliffhanger, I thought it was worth it for the experience. This novel was a solid start to what promises to be a fantastic series, and I can’t wait for the sequel.
Kloos is an indie. Cliffhangers to sell the next book is all part of the job.
But writers like him contributed a large chunk of motivation for me in changing my reading habits to wait for the whole series. I guess I can thank him for that?
Hmm, interesting, I didn’t know that cliffhangers was a known strategy for indies in particular, though that totally makes sense! I should keep my eye open for that the next time I read a self pub/small press/indie.
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Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tried and true way of selling books, so even big pub authors use it, but I’ve noticed that a lot of indies tend to abuse it, until they get enough sales under their belts.
You see it a lot in the Kindle Unlimited program…
I just bought this book a week ago after enjoying his other series. Glad to hear it won’t disappoint, but shame to hear it’s a cliff hanger of an ending that won’t be continued for some time until the sequel comes out.
Ahhh, it’s hard reading/watching a series as it’s released these days! I’m a binger, not a piece mealer!
I really enjoyed this one, much more than I expected to! But yes, the cliffhanger was kind of a bummer, but hopefully knowing it’s coming will prepare you a bit for the abrupt ending 🙂
I had never even heard of this until I read Sarah’s review the other day! Military fantasy isn’t my favorite, but I might consider this one😊
I think you would enjoy this one! It is MilSF but it honestly didn’t feel like one, if you know what I mean, It just felt like any other character-driven sci-fi novel 🙂
I’m not sure it would be for me but I’m glad to see you had a good time with it!
Thanks! And you never know, I actually think this would be easier to get into than most scifi 🙂
It has been a while since my last sci.fi
It’s never too late to grab one 🙂
“”not just long-winded descriptions of high-tech weaponry and war strategies””
Exactly! My main contention with military sci-fi is that it focuses too much on the tech and too little (if any…) on characterization. This novel, though, seems to take a very different approach, and your description of it makes me very eager to read it. Hopefully the sequel will not be too far away… 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
I know a lot of MilSF fans actually like that stuff, and that’s fine, but for me I just need something…more, I guess! That’s what separates a 3 star book from a 4-5 star book for me.
I’m not familiar with this author, and I don’t read a lot of military sci-fi, but I do enjoy it every so often, especially if it contains some great characters. Added it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review.
You’re very welcome, and I’m glad I put this one on your radar! Kloos is a new author for me too, I didn’t even know anything about this book before I was sent a surprise copy for review. Glad I took a chance on it 🙂
The words ‘military sci fi’ just usually make me want to turn tail and run for the hills but you’ve done a great job in making me intrigued with this one. I think it could be one of a few books in this style that I might enjoy.
Cliffhangers – I never used to mind unfinished endings but I think I’ve become more cautious with time, either authors no longer continuing a series I’ve started leaving everything up in the air, or others who take years and years and no sign of a follow up. I know that authors want you to buy the series as it comes out and I understand why but these experiences do tend to make you a little more cautious. Lets hope the next book in series is planned fairly quickly.
Really glad you loved this one. I always think I probably would’t like this type of genre, but I’ve thought that about other things and ended up liking books–there are always exceptions! I’ll keep this one in mind. 🙂
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