Genre: science fiction with paranormal (psychic) thrown in.
Ia is a precog, blessed –or cursed- with visions of the future. She has witnessed the devastation of her home galaxy three hundred years in the future, long after she is gone, but believes she can prevent it.
Enlisting in the Terran United Planets, Ia plans to rise through the ranks, meeting and influencing important people and building a reputation that will inspire others for the next three centuries. But she needs to be assigned to the right ship, the right company, and the right place to earn that reputation honestly – all while keeping her psychic abilities hidden form her superiors, who would refuse to risk such a valuable gift in combat.
To save the Galaxy, Ia must become someone else: the soldier known as Bloody Mary.
I have no idea how to do this book justice in a review. I loved every page of it. Even things that would normally send me of to sleep fast, kept me glued to the pages. Jean Johnson has such a fantastic way with words, and sucking you into her world, I did not want to stop reading. So, it was a very good thing I had the whole day to read.
The book starts with a 15 year old Ia, living on one of the farthest colonized worlds from Earth, one with heavy gravity. She is a very strong precog, and she just witnessed the total demolition of not only her home planet, but of the whole known Galaxy. Desperately looking for a way to safe it all, she sees only one tiny possibility. And she goes for it. All other ways open to her, to warn people, will lead to disaster and ruin. And so she shoulders her burden, and gives up her dreams, and start training for the one thing that will make it possible for her to succeed. As the future is not written in stone, and every tiny thing can change the course of destiny. And Ia is determined to change as much as she can, when and where she can.
She sets out to be a soldier in the Terran United Planets Space Force Marines. Not an officer, safe behind a desk, not as a precog, having others relay her visions, but as a foot soldier, moving up through the ranks on her own merits. And on what she can see in the Timespace. She knows what dangers and obstacles she will most likely face, but for every possibility there are others than can come true as well. She will have to keep her powers hidden, and still save those people she will need later on.
We follow Ia on her journey as a soldier for the Space Marines from day one in the year 2490, bootcamp in Australia, from the day she turns a legal 18 and can enlist. How she learns the basics of a soldiers life, and no matter how much she has studied and trained as a martial artist, no matter how much she has foreseen, she will still have to do it all. And survive everything that comes her way. She cannot risk having people find out her secrets, putting her in the wrong division, she needs to be a Marine. Of course, not everything is clear, sometimes there are too many possible outcomes, and the path is grey. Nor does she wish to know everything about all her teammates and instructors. Seeing how they are going to die is horrible, which makes it hard for her to make real friends. In her spare free time, Ia spends it writing letters to the Grandmaster with her prophecies, but we never learn what those are. She tries to take care of as many details as she can, for her family and friends, and other kind of relations.
The book is filled with day to day “normalcy” and a lot of combat action, aliens and technology. I really like Ia, she is such a strong heroine, and a true Marine, fighting for her country, and her Galaxy. To serve and to protect, that is her goal. I think this book is also a tribute to our own militairy, besides being a very very good novel. I am looking forward to the second book, An officer’s duty, which will be published in August. I have it pre-ordered and hope it arrives early.
Due to Ia evolving through the lower ranks of the Marines, and her varying assignments, there are not many secondary characters who stay a long time. But those that get portrayed in this book are so three-dimensional, so lifelike, you could stand next to them aboard ship. I loved it.
Kudos to Jean Johnson for writing such a great book. I already loved her Sons of Destiny series, about 8 brothers (4 sets of twins) who find their own mate, and her Shifters, who live in that same realm, but this book is something else. Even better. I think Jean Johnson can even make a manual interesting to read.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian