Four Tyrannosaurus Rex Claw Prints
The Martian Marauders has just gotten a review from a new review site, The Nerdasaurus Rex.
Review at “The Nerdasaurus Rex” (Mark Turner), April 26, 2012
I downloaded an eCopy (is that a word yet? If not, I am totally calling “TM” on that phrase) of the novel, The Martian Marauders, by Michael D. Smith off of Amazon for kindle.*
It took me longer to read it than something of similar length due to real world issues (read: I have a job and I would like to keep it), but that doesn’t really have to do with the content of the book, itself.
Smith’s book takes place in the not-too-distant future as man-kind realizes that Mars, the planet a vast majority of the human population migrated to after the Earth was made un-livable due to futuristic weapons wreaking havoc on the planet, was once the home for Martians… and now those Martians are seemingly set on taking the planet back.
A lot happens – a lot of action, a lot of developments, a lot of discoveries, and a lot of characters are introduced – in this book and it is all done with the goal of a trilogy in mind. I was entertained and liked how everything wrapped up by the final paragraph, although the trip, at times, seemed to hit turbulence.
The book immediately gets you up to speed on both where the human race is and where the main focus of the story is going to be focusing in the first few pages. I think that the idea that mankind is no longer on Earth due to our own actions was both believable and a good choice, just as I felt that tying what had happened on Earth with the main characters, directly, was beneficial for helping make sure that readers understand how important these characters are to the universe they are in.
The non-action parts that helped explained how human society had changed (and, coincidentally, not changed) were, for me, nice. I found myself liking how certain important buildings on Mars were named after famous people from “history.” I liked how Earth was “destroyed” (for lack of better terms) because of an even called the Final War and even though the USSF won, it didn’t come without cost. So, I really liked how the author made sure that we got parts of the story that helped us, as readers, piece together the major parts of mankind’s history up until that point.
The weapons that the Martians used were also, for me, interesting – primarily the weapon called a scattergun that has an incredible effect on organic material, causing it to solidify and break away like shards of glass (at one point, the sound of someone dying as result of being hit by a scattergun was likened to the sound of china hitting the floor). I think that weapon has great potential if this story were to ever get on the small or big screen if the right special effects people get to work on it. Likewise, the Ice Beam weapon that makes a brief appearance is another attack used by the Martians that, while deadly, is decidedly a different way to vanquish an enemy and seemed appropriate for the alien beings.
While I appreciate the dynamic that having a group of brothers brings to any situation (I, myself, am one of three boys born to my parents) – and while I feel that each brother was given a chance to show their personality in the first book – I personally felt that having so many Commers (the last name of the family in-focus in the story) all with their first names starting with “J” was very, very confusing – particularly early in the story. I don’t know if the author was trying to make a reference to the story of the Sullivan brothers who died in World War II, but I personally think there were just too many Commers running around for most of the book and, because of that, characters couldn’t be developed quite as well as they possibly could have been – and, as a result of that, I really didn’t feel too much of an emotional pull when things started getting really crazy later on.
At times, I got irritated with how the main characters spoke during times of action – but that’s really just me being nit-picky on dialogue. I suspect that the author’s preferred means of sharing how a character reveals something is via dialogue instead of narrative or action, and that simply is just a writing style difference. A lot of interesting things happened once the Martians and humans had a battle on Mars and a lot of that was conveyed through the verbal exchanges between characters instead of a narrative by the author. My personal tastes didn’t prefer that – but to think that military men in the heat of battle wouldn’t be shouting things to one another as the battle progressed is ridiculous on my part. So, while this is under the “Bad” category, please keep in mind that I’m just saying that I would have liked less chatter in certain parts is all.
I felt, as a lead character, Jack Commer was lacking. I know that’s pretty rough to say and some strong language in writing circles, but I’m just being honest. I think he showed flashes of brilliance, but he was supposed to be this strong, leader character and it felt like (especially late in the story when he needed to be stepping up) he was having a breakdown or his cool was snapped. Yes – he was dealing with some stuff that, for any person, would mess with your head (and I’m not just talking about being on the front lines as mankind was going to “war” with a Martian species), but at one point I found myself wanting Jack to “man up” instead of just freaking out about whatever had just happened. Now, when it really counted, he got his head straight and saved the day – but even then, he got an assist from another character.
I found the cover of the book a bit misleading… but at this point I’m just desperate to find a third point to make in this section.
- Totally hinted at, but never truly experienced in the story, the threat of the Alpha Centaurians and the massive war-machine that mankind was battling in far-off space really, for me, was something that makes me eager to read Book 2 of the trilogy. From the very brief descriptions and details given in the first book, the AC threat is a whole new monster that could be a darker turn for the series – and that interests me greatly. Michael Smith was able to generate a good level of interest in a foe/character that we haven’t even SEEN yet with just subtle hints and tidbits… not unlike how Spielberg teased/terrorized his audience with little to no actual views of the shark, itself, in JAWS back in 1975 (and from me, that’s a damn good compliment). I can only hope that once the readers follow the story into the fray against the Alpha Centaurians, it won’t disappoint.
- By the end of the story, Jack and Joe Commers became the focus of the heroic side of things and I felt like they play off each other very well. In addition, the author did a great job conveying the connection two brothers have with one another and making the two of them different enough to be their own person. At times, I wondered why Joe wasn’t the focus of the story, but the author does a good job giving the two Commers brothers enough time as the focus of different chapters so they both get ample development.
- There were a lot of characters in this story and Mr. Smith does his best to make sure you get a little bit of who they are through narrative, back story and even verbal exchanges. I found that the majority of the minor characters all seemed to be either likable or detestable – from Harri McNarri to the Commers’s parents – which, to me, says that the author isn’t afraid to be ambiguous about that and it shows courage, as a writer. For example, I hope that Captain Daniel Henderson has an unfortunate mishap with an airlock in Book 2 for being such a snooty S.O.B.
- Hopefully, this point won’t spoil too much of the story, but after I concluded the story, my mind wandered a bit (like it tends to do) and I wanted to know why the author decided to go with that particular set of physical features he gave his Martians? Were there physical advantages for the lidless eyes, the skin-color and the other features he chose? I, as a nerd, would find those points and that kind of information interesting bits to add to the Martian side of the story in the future books.
As the first book in a series/trilogy, I felt that it did a good job of setting up the rest of the series and establishing the universe, who the main players are and how we all got to this point. As it can be difficult to describe action in ship-to-ship combat, it will be interesting to see how that aspect of space warfare is conveyed by the author, or if he elects to just keep battles limited to blaster fights on planets or in spaceships.
Based on my desire to read about the Alpha Centaurian threat in the upcoming books and how things have set up nicely for everything to get darker if the AC’s are half as insane as is hinted at in Book 1… I’m going to give this a 4-star rating with an asterisk because alone the story would probably get a 3 ½-star rating… but because I am honestly looking forward to Book 2, it gets that extra little something to bump it up to a 4.
For more info on the story from the author himself, or for links to purchase the story in eFormat, check out his blog here.
* – I purchased the book through Amazon because, for some reason, it was hard to find on any other eBook service. I have found that Amazon is easier to use and purchase from, although I’m still new to eBook shopping.
I’m delighted by this review, and not just because The Martian Marauders earned four out of a possible five Tyrannosaurus Rex claw prints. Mr. Turner, the reviewer, has laid out what he likes and dislikes about the novel in a clear manner, and it’s a treat to see a writer spend so much valuable e-space thoughtfully analyzing one’s work. I especially like that he’s looking forward to the second book of the series, Jack Commer, Supreme Commander, which I’m expecting will be released by Double Dragon Publishing in the near future.
Check out Mr. Turner’s other reviews on his new site, including his “Rules About Reviews.” His clear, direct, and humorous approach should take him far. He’s delivers his forceful opinions in an even-handed and entertaining manner, and backs up what he says.
This review is actually the second one garnered by The Martian Marauders, the first being one left on the book’s Barnes and Noble product page, written by one “Mike_” (no relation, I swear!)
copyright 2012 by Michael D. Smith
I edited this post June 27, 2019 to reflect the unfortunate demise of Mr. Turner’s blog; instead of a link to it, I’ve included his review, indented.