Sunday, March 30, 2014

Terms of Enlistment: Frontline Series, Book 1, by Marko Kloos.

Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos. [1]
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     I found this wonderful book on Amazon in their Kindle Owners' Free Lending Library! The Amazon Lending Library is one of my regular places that I go to get free reading material. I love to save money, so getting a free book every month adds up. Terms of Enlistment lists at $3.99 on Amazon; at $3.99 per month I'd be saving $47.88 a year--but we all know that many books cost far more than $3.99.

     One month, for example (January 2012), I chose The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for my free read of the month. The next month (February), I read Catching Fire (book 2). The following month (March), I read The Mockingjay (book 3)--all borrowed for free from the Lending Library. [2]

     There are so many books from which to select. I wanted a science-fiction book for my free pick for this month, and when I looked at some of the many titles, I liked the synopsis and premise for this book and picked it out for my March 2014, selection.

     After I read the book by Marko Kloos, Terms of Enlistment: Frontlines Series, Book 1, I decided to draft a book review, first, because I am always looking for a new author (to me) that I can enjoy his/her books. Second, I considered that I haven't given many book reviews in the science-fiction genre and thought that this would be a great one to do.

The Edge of Tomorrow retitled from Hiroshi Sakurazaka's,
All You Need Is Kill is also of the Military Sci-fi genre. [3]
     Additionally, I'm planning to do another military sci-fi book review before the movie, Edge of Tomorrow comes to theaters June 6, 2014. The story is based upon Hiroshi Sakurazaka's book, All You Need Is Kill. I have already read the novel and eagerly look forward to drafting the blog post for you. Moreover, this movie looks to be one of the summer's big hits with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt as two of the movie's stars.

     I also wanted to showcase Terms of Enlistment, because it was free for me to read through the Lending Library. Yes, I wanted to show you that free books can be entertaining, but also that they can be well-written, intelligent, and not necessarily cheesy or slip-shod.[1] 

Marko Kloos sets his story in 2108. The location is the "North American Commonwealth." The population is out of control and resources are extremely limited. Marko Kloos' book reminded me of the world of "Blade Runner," or "Brave New World," environmentally. Terms of Enlistment, the Earth in 2108, has that same gritty feel to it. People are living on the edge, there's overpopulation and crime, and blackmarket sales of everything abounds. It seems that people will do almost anything to escape the hopeless conditions of life. [4]

One shooting location from the movie, Blade Runner, [5]
     For our hero, Andrew Grayson, like so many others in the book, has but two ways to escape the grinding poverty and welfare state propelling everyone into a life of crime and hopelessness. With some luck, Andrew could win the lottery to gain a slot on a colony ship and head for a new off-world settlement--yeah, right, what are the odds of that happening with so many people to compete for the precious few slots? Well, for Andrew, a second option seemed to promise more success--study hard and pass entrance examinations for enlisting in the armed forces. And that is exactly what he does.

     The book quickly goes from Andrew's pre-military time right into his training, and then early military assignments. The more fantastical sci-fi-like scenes fall in toward the end of the book as Andrew and company run into an alien species who are taking over a colony planet. It looks like escaping the planet is going to be a really big problem.

     I have never been in any branch of the military and had tons of questions that I put to my husband who has had tons of military experience. Thank you, Carl, for your assistance on the military information which you provided to me.

Genre's have gotten so specialized that now many
"sub-genres" exist--military sci-fi is a sub-genre. [7]
     I also want to refer you to a blogger who writes from the military perspective, so you won't have to entirely take my word about the book. The web site is, "A Soldier's Perspective: The Web's Leading Military Blog Since 2004." Fortuitously, the web site's blogger, "LL," has also posted a book review about Marko Kloos' book, Terms of Enlistment. Take a look at it if you wish more information about the military aspects.[6]

     O.K. So, what is "MSF" or "Military Science Fiction," alternately known as Military Sci-Fi? As a subgenre of science fiction, it features not only the technology that we love to see in traditional sci-fi, but we also see the military prominently featured in the genre. We might see many weapons, highly technical, and often futuristically portrayed. We might also see fantastic body armor and other military applications of the technology we have grown to love in science-fiction.

"Ridley Scott Eyes
The Forever War."
     Aspects of historical conflicts or peoples might be utilized. For example, a real person, place, military unit, battleship, or event could be transformed into a setting in space. We might even see the name of a real battleship on a space ship (i.e. The Enterprise). Two great examples of military sci-fi are Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, and Joe Haldeman's, The Forever War.  The Forever War (won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Book Awards) movie rights have been purchased by Ridley Scott and plans are in the works for turning it into a big screen production.

Starship Troopers by
Robert A. Heinlein. [9]
     Readers of military sci-fi insist on the author's "getting it right..." meaning, that the author must portray in an authentic manner the lifestyles and characters of the military within the book. Military terms, strategies, equipment, etc. must also be authentically portrayed, even if the weapons become super weapons and the story is transmuted by science fiction into a different time and location.

     Readers of MSF (military sci-fi) just have no patience with the characters in the book if they don't behave in a characteristically consistent manner with true-to-life military personnel. The logical conclusion is that many MSF writers have military backgrounds.

  That is one of the points that the article, "A Soldier's Perspective: The Web's Leading Military Blog Since 2004," makes; blogger, "LL," states that the author of Terms of Enlistment, Marko Kloos, served in the military in Germany. Obviously, Marko Kloos knows the life of the military man and can write with authority about the military aspect of MSF writing.[6]

     Even when I was a girl in grade school and high school, I was different from the other girls in that I loved to read militaristic books.

     I loved reading about Alexander the Great and Bucephalus (Alexander's great black war horse). I read extensively about the Berber General Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the initial incursion into Iberia and after whom the Rock of Gibralter was named.

     I loved reading about the bull riders of the Minoan culture, about the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur, about the Egyptians and their chariots and war practices, about Joan of Arc, Hannibal crossing the Alps, Temujin (Genghis Khan), about Charlemagne and Roland (I loved, The Song of Roland), and many others.

     I very much appreciate reading about the military experience. And, after I came to love sci-fi, I discovered the sub-genre of military science fiction and came to love it, as well. Yes, MSF is for men and women who have served in the military, but it is also for people like me who simply enjoy it, and for those of us who have relatives who serve or have served in the military.

In his first assignment, Andrew is
asked where he went to Basic. He
didn't know, and was asked if it was,
"Swampland, brushy desert, or nothing
but cornfields? Brushy desert..." An-
drew replied. "'NACRD Orem,' another
soldier says. 'I went there, too. Not
too bad. You don't have the bugs and the
humidity the poor fuckers at NACRD
Charleston have to deal with" (p.75).[11]
Detail:  That long preamble having been said, I loved Marko Kloss's book. One of the most important things the author does is provide enough detail for the reader to make the situations believable. Here, for example, Marko Kloss takes us through the steps of basic training with Andrew. We see Andrew as he is introduced to each unfamiliar circumstance; we are privy to Andrew's feelings and thoughts.

     Learning to march together, for example--Andrew tells of two hours of loud repetitive instruction at the end of which the soldiers still sucked. Andrew tells us that he felt "like a cog in a machine" and that he didn't mind because when "you're neither the best nor the can disappear in the crowd."

     He also tells us about one particularly bad day for Andrew. Andrew thought about "standing up and walking over to Sergeant Burke to announce" that he wanted to quit. Kloss tells us that Andrew thinks about where he came from (the PRC) "where it smells of piss and puke in the hallways and staircases, the thugs rousting people just out of meanness and boredom--and [he] banishes the thought." Detail. Emotion. Thought. Enough to make it all believable to the reader.

I love the name of this book. Terms of
. I love the multiple levels of
meaning, for example, as a noun describ-
ing the specific requirements of enlistment;
or as a description of the amount of time re-
quired for commitment; to give a descrip-
tive label to Andrew's enlistment, or even the
conditions under which Andrew undertakes
enlistment, and of course, the terms for which
Andrew will be paid and how much. [12]
Narrative Mode: It is Andrew Grayson who tells us his story. I say Andrew Grayson because the story is told in first person and in present tense. The effect of this is to give the reader a feeling of everything happening in the present time--a sense of immediacy. I also like that Kloos manages his writing style so that he doesn't leave the impression of Andrew running around "commenting" on everything he sees and does. That can be pretty dull. The writing just seems to flow naturally--I think Marko Kloss worked very hard to make it seem that way. And, by the way, I rather like it that Andrew is not omniscient.

Padding and plot:   Another thing I like is no padding in the book. No long sequences where absolutely nothing happens to move the plot forward. No pages upon pages of dialog where nothing of consequence is discussed (over and over again), and once again, the plot does not move forward. Thankfully, Marko Kloss keeps the plot moving and the avoids the pitfall of pages of inane exposition.

Fun:   Finally, I have to say that I just thought the book was fun to read. Once I opened the pages of the book, I could not put it down until I finished it.

Lines of Departure: Frontlines Series,
Book 1 
by Marko Kloos. [13]
     We don't have a movie rating to gauge the violence, sex, and bad language, so from what I can remember from the book, it was fairly clean. I would, though label this book PG-13, as the book is militaristic and people get killed. Parents, you know your children better than anyone else, and you are their best guide. Read the book and assess it first, if you need to.

     I enjoyed this book very much--so much so that I am planning on reading Lines of Departure, Frontline Series, Book 2 of the series in April when I get a new free library pick from the Kindle Free Lending Library. I must have enjoyed Book 1, because I mean...after all...I decided to do a blog post on the book. It takes a lot of work to get one of these done.

My rating: 4.5 Stars. [14]
     So, for all the above reasons, and because I really enjoyed the book, I rate Marko Kloos's book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

     Thank you for joining me this week as we explored Amazon's Free Lending Library and Marko Kloss's Terms of Enlistment, The Frontline Series, Book 1. I invite you to join me next week as we look at a new book. Pick up a book this week and read something, I'd recommend Terms of Enlistment--I think you would enjoy the book--give it a try. My best to you all.

Until next time...
White Rose. [14]

...Many happy pages of reading.  

1. "Terms of Enlistment: Frontlines Series, Book 1." [by Marko Kloos] Retrieved 03-27-14.
2. "The Hunger Games; Catching Fire; and The Mockingjay." [Author: Suzanne Collins] Retrieved 03-27-14.
3. "Garden of Entropy--Idle by the Fountains of Nonsense." Retrieved 03-27-14.
4. "Brave New World." [by Aldous Huxley] Retrieved 03-28-14.
5. "Movie Tourist." [Blade Runner] Retrieved 03-28-14.
6. "Book Review--Terms of Enlistment." [by LL] Retrieved 03-28-14.
7. "How to Define Science Fiction." Retrieved 03-28-14.
8. "Ridley Scott Eyes The Forever War." [by Starr Keshet] Retrieved 03-29-14.
9. "Starship Troopers." [by Robert A. Heinlein] Retrieved 03-29-14.
10. "My American Decade." [by Marko Kloos] Retrieved 03-29-14.
11. "Basic Training Zone." Retrieved 03-29-14.
12. "E-Book Recommendation Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos." Retrieved 03-29-14.
13. "Lines of Departure." [by Marko Kloos] Retrieved 03-239-14. 
14. "Lonely Planet." Retrieved 03-29-24.
15. "Top 28 White Roses Pictures For Free Download." Retrieved 03-29-14.