A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson
Series: Theirs Not to Reason Why #1
Source: Personal (e-)shelf
Ia is a precog, tormented by visions of the future where her home galaxy has been devastated. To prevent this vision from coming true, Ia enlists in the Terran United Planets military with a plan to become a soldier who will inspire generations for the next three hundred years-a soldier history will call Bloody Mary.
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As you’ve probably realized by now, I’ve been on a bit of a science fiction bender. Most of the stuff I’ve been reading has been sci fi romance but A Soldier’s Duty is straight-up science fiction. And while Jean Johnson is an experienced author, having written numerous paranormal romance novels, but I’ve never actually read any of her work so I went into it without any preconceptions.
Short version: Rawrsome!
Long version: There is so much to appreciate in A Soldier’s Duty. It’s straight-up science fiction and it was a lot of fun. I’ve been really into sci fi books lately, as you’ll see from the reviews that are in the pipeline, and I think A Soldier’s Duty is a large part of this.
The cover copy doesn’t really do the story justice. Jean Johnson has crafted a really complex story based on one idea: Ia is a precog who realizes that terrible things will happen if she doesn’t carefully pick her way through the time stream, with her goal of saving millions of lives. It’s a journey she begins as a teenager and we see her through only the first part of this epic story. A Soldier’s Duty takes us through Ia’s military training and her early career, in which she makes some great allies and faces terrible dangers. There are some amazing battles and interesting aliens but what I really liked about the story is Ia herself. Her personality and determination drive A Soldier’s Duty to its exciting conclusion and watching her forge herself into a warrior and a leader is really interesting. And it really is a matter of her working extremely hard to become what the universe needs her to be (even though the rest of the universe doesn’t know it).
That being said, there were some bits of the book that I found myself floundering in. This happened during Ia’s time in boot camp, when she was ingesting a lot of information about protocol and weaponry and the like. I think these rather dense passages are typical of science fiction, though, and it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of A Soldier’s Duty. I just found it to be a lot of information to digest but it’s not just an info dump — it’s there for a reason and it really helps build the setting.
I’d also like to comment on the fact that the worldbuilding in A Soldier’s Duty is impeccable. There are Heavyworlders and scary aliens and brilliantly described worlds. You can get a really nice feel for things if you visit Jean Johnson’s page on the series so I’ll urge you to check that out instead of using my own less eloquent words.
I’ve exhausted my book budget for this month but I’m hoping to pick up the next book in the series, An Officer’s Duty, just as soon as I can. If A Soldier’s Duty is anything to go by, I’m sure it’ll be a great ride!