- Into The Guns.
- William C. Dietz.
- 336 pages.
- Post Apocalyptic / Military / Fiction.
- My Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5.
On May Day, 2018, sixty meteors entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded around the globe with a force greater than a nuclear blast. Earthquakes and tsunamis followed. Then China attacked Europe, Asia, and the United States in the belief the disaster was an act of war.
Washington D.C. was a casualty of the meteor onslaught that decimated the nation’s leadership and left the surviving elements of the armed forces to try and restore order as American society fell apart.
As refugees across America band together and engage in open warfare with the military over scarce resources, a select group of individuals representing the surviving corporate structure make a power play to rebuild the country in a free market image as The New Confederacy…
I received a free copy of the book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Into the Guns is the first book in Deitz’s new post-apocalyptic trilogy: America Rising.
On May Day 2018 a natural disaster strikes, 60 meteors hit the Earth sending the world into complete disarray, not realising that it was in-fact a freak act of nature China believing it was under attack from another country then unleashes its own Nuclear weapons resulting in even more ensuing chaos. One of the meteors wipes out Washington in the US after hitting it with more than twenty times the power of the atomic bomb that dropped on Hiroshima destroying the government and sending the country into turmoil. We do get to read that other countries were also struck by the meteors and China’s missiles, but it’s only a quick reference to let us know that other countries were affected to.
After the catastrophe America deteriorates, erupting in a civil war, ending up being divided into two, the North and the South.
The North lack resources and want to try to maintain the true American way of life and attitude bringing the country back to its former pre-impact glory keeping within the US Constitution. Whilst the South, calling themselves The New Confederacy control the oil and other various resources and want to rebuild America in a corporate structure with a select few in charge of the masses, the wealthy controlling the poor. If you will in the words of Guns N Roses from their classic song Civil War “It feeds the rich while it buries the poor“. And thus, a struggle between the two sides ensues with control of the country and its resources at stake.
The story itself centres around two main character points of view. Firstly Lieutenant Robin Macintyre/Mac who is part of a recon platoon who in a rescue attempt to move civilians to safety gets stranded along with the rest of her platoon. After being stranded from the rest of the army and with no communication her group must traverse North America as she leads her group to safety encountering various obstacles and conflicts along the way before joining the war effort as part of the US army. As their journey progresses, the platoon turn into Mac’s Marauders a mercenary outfit but as long as you keep with the Army doctorate, rules and chain of command, it’s fine to class yourself as mercenaries.
The second main point of view comes courtesy of Samuel T. Sloan, before the meteors struck he was the Secretary of Energy for the US and his story arc sees him at the beginning of the book in Mexico on a government mission about energy, so he’s not in the US when the meteors hit destroying the government, congress, et al. He soon runs afoul of the South and the people in charge down there, resulting in an escape and adventure back to the North where he finds as the highest ranking official left that he is now the President of the US at least on the North side as the South won’t cede to his authority.
The book being the first in a trilogy ends after the first real battle between the North and the South leaving the story open for the two future books.
The cast of characters are all under developed, clichéd and unlikable. The secondary characters are all instantly forgettable and the main characters themselves overall lack any redeeming qualities that can pull the book towards you caring about the outcome. Sloan is very annoying and I didn’t like his character at all, he has a self-important air of graces about him and as the reader I just didn’t connect with him. If we are supposed to root for the North as the titular “good guys” of the series and get behind Sloan then he really needs to develop some charisma in the following books. He’s enough to make you want the South and the “bad guys” to win though they are no better, apart from Mac’s Sister and Father they are all a faceless bunch that are also forgettable and hold no interest.
The best and that’s a term I use very loosely character in the book is Mac, she isn’t likeable per se but she isn’t unlikable either, she just lacks the captivating quality needed to be a leading character. As I mentioned earlier, her Sister and Father are on the South side of the war, you can see where this is going with the fractured family relationships and differing personalities already in place and that there’ll be discord between them in the future books when they finally do meet.
There’s a few things in Into The Guns that don’t make any sense and you’re left wondering at their addition to the story. For example, the Chinese unleashing their Nukes at the books start seems rather incredulous and unnecessary on top of the meteor strike, why not just have a second meteor strike take place? And, it adds nothing to the overall story, unless the series is going to include retaliation and aggression between different countries in the two forthcoming books, but as it’s already an American civil war storyline and the trilogy is called: America Rising I highly doubt it.
The books writing isn’t bad but it’s nothing special either, it’s a competent and standard fare but it just doesn’t pull you into the story being told. There’s never that hook that grabs you, making it a must read and a page turner where you have to keep reading to find out what happens next. Dietz’s imagery is also found wanting, never painting a distinct and strong picture of the destroyed landscapes, certain areas seem to be fine and undamaged while other areas have suffered ruin but it’s never vividly realised and you can’t get a focus of the widespread destruction of the setting. The writing is also missing a distinct lack of humour, I didn’t laugh or even smile once when reading. The sporadic addition of some lightheartedness is always a welcome addition to break up the monotony and when you have military personnel you would at the very least expect some banter between them but alas, no it was not to be as Dietz bypassed that route and believe me Into The Guns needed an injection of humour in places.
The pacing in Into The Guns has to be mentioned to, at the start the story feels very rushed and after the meteor strikes, the US seems to self destruct and implode in a matter of days. After that the pacing gets better and moves forward at an adequately but there’s also some other issues mainly in the first third of the book where the time line jumps around days and weeks. For example, the second time we meet Sloan, 20 days have passed since the last time we saw him, I didn’t realise that until a few paragraphs into the new chapter when Dietz deemed us worthy enough to tell us of the passage of time and it was confusing. This also happens on a few occasions in Mac’s story arc where weeks have passed and it just gave the book an uneven feel to it, especially as we’re led to believe that nothing interesting happened in the gaps yet at the start the US went to hell in days.
The books military influence is intriguing and adds a different take on the genre using military equipment and tactics. Dietz uses military jargon and acronyms throughout, sometimes with detriment to the story, as he either neglects to tell you what the acronyms actually stand for and you’re left trying to figure them out or, there’ll have been mentioned pages before and you have to try to think back what they meant or find the original page they were on. He also has a tendency to overload you with the military aspect and you become bogged down, using the military is interesting it’s just a shame that Dietz didn’t realise that sometimes less is more.
The press release bills this book as “a brand new post-apocalyptic series that will thrill fans of Mad Max”. Now, I’m a Mad Max fan and accepted a review copy of the book based on that description. Unfortunately and much to my chagrin I couldn’t find any remote Mad Max feel, vibe or reference to this book at all! The closest you get is the mention of Warlords taking over and running certain towns but as we never get to see these Warlords and it’s stretching the Mad Max link anyway as it’s a very tenuous connection. Sadly the nearest that this bunch of bland, dullard and vanilla characters get to Mad Max is if any of them were watching one of the films during the book!
I always attempt to be genuine and honest, giving you my personal perspective in the assessment of a book when reviewing it. Even when I don’t like a book I try to look at it objectively and alongside my issues, I also attempt to offer any redeeming qualities and features to that book as I know we’re all different and while I don’t like a particular book it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t actually like the book given a chance. However, it maybe harsh but where Into The Guns is concerned, I can’t find anything to make me recommend it you and I find it to be lacking in any redeeming qualities. I did finish the book in the hope that it would improve but it didn’t and I even found myself skimming pages which isn’t normally something I do when reading.
If you’re looking for a book in the post-apocalyptic genre that has a similar feel to Into The Guns then there’s two books that I highly recommend (they are both better in every way). The first is South by Frank Owen that follows a similar idea to Into The Guns with a North and South divide but has far better writing, imagery, characters and story. And, the second is Bite by K.S Merbeth, a fun-filled action-packed frolic into the post-apocalyptic that really has a Mad Max vibe to it. Both are top quality reads and my reviews canbe found for both of the books below:
To conclude, Dietz likes to use military acronyms throughout the book and while it’s not technically a military acronym and is more a slang term derived from WW2. I have one that sadly is very apt in describing my feelings perfectly towards this book: FUBAR.
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