Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: Contra Alliance

Take one part James Rollins action fiction, one part 1980s G.I. Joe, and one part J. J. Abrams film-style, put it all on a roller coaster ride and you kind of get the feeling that is reading Contra Alliance.

Contra Alliance tells story of human-looking aliens, called the Nerrial, and their descendants, sent to Earth in the late 1800s to slowly guide humanity into a peaceful existence by assuming high-profile military and political positions . By 2035 three other aliens calling themselves and their organization The Revolution have come to Earth with plans to cause all-out war between the Nerrial and their enemies the Nezdeth – demonic looking aliens that fought them previously for control of their home system and lost. Now the Nezdeth have the same war machines as the Nerrial and plan to cause chaos on Earth to bring the Nerrial here for battle.

It’s 2035, and the Earth-based Nerrial, through NATO, have formed a new counter-Revolution force called CONTRA. Utilizing the latest in combat weaponry such as battlesuits, new stealth aircraft, and laser-based weaponry, CONTRA must decide if the Revolution is just another terrorist organization or the feared return of the Nezdeth. We meet the three Earth-leaders of the Nerrial, and their two CONTRA teams as they battle The Three leaders of the Revolution and their Nezdeth warriors. We’re taken to China, Russia, Jerusalem, and elsewhere as the costs rise and the secret of The Revolution is revealed. Between each battle, we get some brief downtime to further develop some of the characters, but those scenes seem tacked on and lack any real depth preventing me from really caring about any of the characters.

In Contra Alliance, practically everyone has a call-sign. I’ve read other military fiction where the team members had call-signs, but for some reason they all blended together here and I had a hard time keeping track of who’s on each team and what they’re doing. The call-signs were very reminiscent of G.I. Joe, describing the character’s primary specialty within the unit or a physical characteristic. Also, with all the cool tech in the story, for me, there wasn’t enough description of the new futuristic weapons and vehicles being used. What exactly is a Shadowhawk? Why aren’t there helmets on the battlesuits to keep someone from getting slashed in the face or filter their breathing? That being said, there’s plenty description of the world of 2035 and the changes to the political landscape. It seems there was much more thought put into the world  than the lives of the characters.

While I found the character development shallow and forced and the narrative uncompelling, I found the overall story intriguing and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

Contra Alliance - Shadows of the Past is the first book of a trilogy, the first part of a series of a two trilogies and a comic book series. The back of the book includes some great comic book-style cover art featuring the different teams. More art and much more information about the books and the world within is available at the Contra Alliance website.

Contra Alliance was provided to me by the author for review.

1 comment:

  1. I thought the over arching idea was great - interstellar war, with Earth at the center, people who are aliens but don't know it (sleeper agents?). The futuristic SF elements were pretty cool.

    but I'm in complete agreement - everyone's callsigns were difficult to keep track of, and the writing was bland and uncompelling. I don't have plans to continue with this series, so let me know how it goes.


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