Genre: War Fiction, Science Fiction, Social Fiction, Science Fantasy
“Born and bred for war, Sandra Leo and her close knit platoon trained for years for combat, they thought they were trained for anything.When a surprising foe emerges, the tides of war change throwing Sandra and the 1099th platoon into a fight for survival. They are pushed to their limits and Sandra faces horrors she never believed imaginable, even in war.”
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Quinn Buckland’s other works, but this one may be my favorite thus far. Set in a highly militaristic and apocalyptic Earth, this book outlines the dangers of power, corrupt government, and war in a chillingly realistic future version of the world.
The story is set up as a flashback, but not in the typical sense. It starts with Captain Sandra Leo stating the reason she is making this recording (through a machine that attaches to the brain to automatically record memories) is to explain her ‘treasonous’ actions during the war. It begins with a vague flash of a recent killing before delving into her history. There are only a couple of times where she pauses to speak directly to the listener, so the book doesn’t really feel like a flashback or series thereof.
Sandra’s experiences do well in creating the grim atmosphere and teaching about the past that has led to such a horrible future where all nations and peoples are divided and forced to fight. Women are mandated to give birth three times during their life to children they will never know, as these babies are bred for the sole purpose of becoming soldiers. Being one such child herself, Sandra knows nothing except the battleground.
The logical mindset that forces such an existence is eerily reminiscent of the same training given to real life military and the stories given to us through the media and politicians. Also much like real life, both soldiers and civilians are aware of only part of the story. Even though Sandra takes note that something is missing, the irrefutable horror of their existence remains the same regardless. This means the soldiers must retain hope that their fight, their very lives, will change the world’s future because what else is there?
Although going in great detail, the author has interspersed information in a way that is not overbearing. ‘History lessons’ are accompanied with character experiences so the reader does not feel they are in some boring class, but rather learning the universe and how it came to be through natural settings. The interactions between the characters as well as Sandra’s personal thoughts and emotions really made me attach to them in a way that even though revelations from the beginning already told me this was not a ‘happily ever after,’ I still clung to hope that things would get better too.
‘The 1099th’ is filled with emotion: doubt, betrayal, loss, hope and hopelessness, all while portraying terrifying truths that correlate to real life. It’s largely a science and war fiction, but there is a minor amount of fantasy added in through the presence of magic users. Some may feel this undercuts the messages of the story, but without spoiling anything, I will say I personally feel that it enriches the environment because the fantasy aspect is never a key element until much later on when it affects the plot.
One thing I would like to point out is the amount of work the author has clearly put in. You’ll have a lot of questions along the way, but if you pay attention, all will be answered. Everything ties in at the end and the timing of when the author answers these questions is perfect. A small example of such is Sandra’s pregnancies. The first is basically skipped over with the explanation that one of the medicines used causes a sort of amnesia which takes these nine months for the mother’s body to become used to.
Initially, I was disappointed not to hear more of the process and Sandra’s personal experience. However, further evaluation told me that if the author had gone into detail at that point, it would have felt more grueling: too much explaining and not enough action. And as I said before, these questions were answered later during her second pregnancy when she could remember it. As well, the author used this timing to exhibit an intricate part of the plot.
All in all, an excellent work! Kudos to Quinn Buckland for once again exceeding my expectations.
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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