In this quick read for the Kindle, a ragtag platoon of soldiers is sent to a small planet on a recon mission. Reports have filtered in that Earth’s mysterious enemy, the Tarturans, have set up a weapons research facility on the planetoid, known as Elysium. Corporal Adams is put in charge, and the platoon heads out.
Upon arrival, disaster strikes, as the undisciplined pilot of the dropship comes in too hot and the vessel crashes. Adams and a handful of survivors find themselves in a harsh wilderness of rivers, swamps, and mangrove-like trees. They scrounge for weapons and supplies and set up camp, determined to complete the recon mission despite the hardship.
The Quiet Place is a very difficult novel to assess. The placement of valuable military resources in the hands of an obviously troubled platoon stretches belief, and the explanation of why soldiers with so many discipline problems were sent on the mission is slight. One would have to assume that dropships, weapons, and equipment are in surplus in the military of the future. It is also strongly implied from the outset that the mission was never really intended to succeed, again forcing the reader to wonder why the brass even bothered.
If one can take these problems in stride, the rest of the story is at least interesting. The soldiers encounter local flora and fauna that proves to be deadly, and the survivors of the dropship crash begin to dwindle in number. The incompetence of the marginalized soldiers only adds to the chaos, creating a frustrating situation where the reader is doubtlessly rooting for them to succeed, but is forced to watch them make several recklessly idiotic decisions. Corporal Adams appears to be the lone voice of reason, and he does not have the weight of character to hold the group together.
All of that being said, the narrative and description are good. Ferguson creates a vibrant, terrifying world. The pace is also excellent and pulls the reader through the story relentlessly. There is also a complication about two-thirds of the way through that comes at a perfect time and breathes new life into the story. The last third of the book is arguably the most interesting and the story ends on a high note.
3 out of 5 stars. Readers who are looking for a more generalized sci-fi adventure may be disappointed. If you like stories about surviving disaster and exploring harsh alien worlds, this book is for you.