77 points, 4 stars
Admiral John “Black Jack” Geary is stuck. He went looking for aliens, and he found them. He is now in the territory of an extremely hostile pack species who is disinclined to let them pass through. While the fleet tries to communicate, they get nothing in return. Geary has to find a way and move out of this system, even if the Enigma race in on the other side waiting for him.
“Fast and stupid is still stupid. It just gets you to stupid a lot quicker than humans could on their own. Which, I admit, is an accomplishment, because we’re pretty damn good at stupid.”
As with every book I’ve read of Jack Campbell’s to date, I found Invincible boring but interesting. I like the events that happen, but they also bore me. It is most likely just a consequence of the way Campbell writes. It is very dry and the character dialogues can be extremely stilted. Yet the events themselves are amazing, even if they take a while to play out. I believe I would love this story a lot more in a more visual medium.
The variations between the aliens are really interesting. The alien story is moving a bit fast for me – they had no idea until very recently that others exist, and now we have three new kinds. However, the variations provide some great thought exercise. We have the Enigmas, who we know nothing about and use the “hide in plain sight” method of fighting, turning people against each other rather than fight outright. Then there is the hyper-aggressive pack animal that look like teddy bear cows. The fleet dubs them the Kicks, and they look like they should be friends but they won’t even respond to communication attempts while simultaneously trying to kill the fleet.
And then there are the Spider-Wolves who look terrifying, but are trying to be friends. They give the Alliance Fleet technology in order to facilitate communication. And better yet, they want to come with the Fleet back home. Yet Geary and the Fleet don’t really know what they really want, and they’re understandably wary.
Yet, the Fleet has to get home. Geary has come to the conclusion that the Enigmas are up to something, and he won’t let them attack the Syndicate. Only humans can fight other humans, the Enigma aren’t going to be allowed. He’ll defend the Syndicate, if it means defending humans.
Invincible increased my liking of this series so far. I was actually more interested than bored. And most of my faults in the previous series are gone this time around, with the romance as background noise and not front and center. I’m looking forward to seeing just what these new aliens are up to and why they want to help so much.