I really wanted to read this book before getting to Ms. Nagata’s new book, The Last Good Man, coming out next month because I wanted some context when it comes to her writing style and ability. The Red: First Light does this because it was first published under her own imprint before being picked up by a publisher. And boy does it create a high bar.
Title: The Red: First Light
Series: The Red; Book 1
Author: Linda Nagata
Genre: Science Fiction, Military Scifi
ROTS Setting: CU, Modern/Near-Future,
Synopsis: Lieutenant James Shelley, who has an uncanny knack for premeditating danger, leads a squad of advanced US Army military tasked with enforcing the peace around a conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. The squad members are linked wirelessly 24/7 to themselves and a central intelligence that guides them via drone relay—and unbeknownst to Shelley and his team, they are being recorded for a reality TV show. When an airstrike almost destroys their outpost, a plot begins to unravel that’s worthy of Crichton and Clancy’s best. The conflict soon involves rogue defense contractors, corrupt US politicians, and homegrown terrorists who possess nuclear bombs. Soon Shelley must accept that the helpful warnings in his head could be AI. But what is the cost of serving its agenda?
Recommendation: Highly recommended! For mature readers. Graphic violence and explicit sex scenes.
This book was amazing! I am seriously impressed and kind of shocked that it’s taken me this long to get to it. I have a couple of nitpicks but they are weak and lame compared to everything else that was done so well, perfection is the closest word to describe them.
My nitpicks? I thought there were one or two instances in which a specific word felt a little off for the character. For instance, “beautiful red mud brick.” Also the word “slam” by the non-military characters. The other nitpick was that some things or aspects of the plot felt a touch too convenient, which may have been the point in many cases, so it could just be me and a moot point.
And there ends my criticism.
James Shelley is a fascinating character, simple, but well layered which creates this relatable character with surprising depth. And a big thing for me…..he wasn’t annoying. I never felt he was being intentionally obtuse or contrary and was a cohesive character from beginning to end.
The other characters were a little flat, but they were never the focus and each was mostly a means to reflect the internal struggle back at the MC so the reader could see how he acted/reacted. We’re very much in Shelley’s head……..which takes a surprising meaning now that I think about it……. Ooooohhhhh………
Well played Nagata, well played.
The plot kept a good pace. Fast when it need to be or slower because there was a reason for it. Again, the plot is relatively simple but layered. This combo meant that it wasn’t hard to follow or keep up, but there were angles and perspectives pointed to deeper plots and intentions. A healthy dose of foreshadow let me see things coming and when I didn’t it was a surprise and not a shock.
Which leads directly into the world building. It’s a fairly focused view of the world, but I never strained to try and look past the blinders because of what is constantly slamming you in the face if you aren’t paying attention. I do want to see more of the world but I’m content with what I know so far. This is helped by the similarities with real life and it’s near-future setting. I loved all the new tech and especially how they were all fit/worked together. It was familiar and unique and just awesome.
In summary, it’s an amazing book and I will definitely be reading the others in the trilogy. However those will have to wait for a bit……but not too long.
The Trials; Book 2 >>