Hello, everyone! This is S. L. Saboviec, and I’m pleased to be a guest today on The Opinionated Woman. I’m author of the Adult Paranormal novel Guarding Angel.
This blog is right up my alley—I certainly have a truckload of opinion, and today I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. (The movie is another subject, which I won’t be covering today. Suffice it to say they went a different direction with it than the book.)
This book was considered one of Heinlein’s most controversial works, but what stands out most is how well-crafted the main character, Johnnie, is. You know that ever-elusive thing called “voice?” This book has it. So much of it. Johnnie is raw and real and has a simple but interesting way of relaying the events of war. I felt like I was inside his head, experiencing everything along with him: the suddenness of death, the build-up of strength of body and mind, the horrors of facing a totally alien species.
But it’s not just voice. The book has tension, world-building, and plot developments that turn on a dime. I was in tears at the end of the first chapter, and I was hooked well before that as Johnnie tells about a high-stakes battle where he’s on the ground of an alien planet, shaking, shivering, yet ultimately defeating his enemies.
Still, there’s the controversial part.
For the first three-quarters of the book, the plot moves along at a good clip; however, by the end, Heinlein gets preachy. Earlier, he gives glimpses into his political and philosophical views on war. (In simplistic terms: war is necessary, sacrifice is vital, and military is the epitome of nobility.) He makes a good case, especially earlier when he’s gently introducing his concepts, but by the end, he stuffed a bunch of propaganda in that made me long for the first chapter. I agree with about seventy-five percent of what he’s saying, but it was overwhelming.
Perhaps that’s the controversial part. It’s not about what he’s saying but how he’s presenting it. The morality gets heavy-handed, and even someone like me who’s mostly on board with his arguments got antsy with his story-telling.
My opinion is that books should be about the story first and foremost. He started off strong, with a compelling character and fascinating situation. Rather than letting the story tell itself, he intruded with his own opinions.
But then again, he’s Robert Heinlein. He can—and did—get away with it.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Johnnie about his drill sergeant:
I’m a self-published author whose dark, thought-provoking science fiction & fantasy contains flawed, relatable characters and themes that challenge the status quo.
Guarding Angel is on sale for $0.99 right now. You can find it at several major eBook retailers and on Amazon in paperback. The sequel, Reaping Angel, will be released in early 2016.
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Thank you, Amaryllis, for having me here today!