As I have mentioned before, I have a weakness for military science fiction. I also try to review as many indie authors as I can. Ark Royal by Christopher Nuttall fits both those bills.
Here’s the scenario, straight out of the Amazon description:
“Seventy years ago, the interstellar supercarrier Ark Royal was the pride of the Royal Navy. But now, her weapons are outdated and her solid-state armour nothing more than a burden on her colossal hull. She floats in permanent orbit near Earth, a dumping ground for the officers and crew the Royal Navy wishes to keep out of the public eye.
“But when a deadly alien threat appears, the modern starships built by humanity are no match for the powerful alien weapons. Ark Royal and her mismatched crew must go on the offensive, buying time with their lives And yet, with a drunkard for a Captain, an over-ambitious first officer and a crew composed of reservists and the dregs of the service, do they have even the faintest hope of surviving …
“… And returning to an Earth which may no longer be there?”
Alien invasion. Giant starships. Space battles. They have all be revisited time and again. The challenge is to find stories that take a fresh and different approach toward this tired scenario. One of the freshest and most interesting aspect of the Ark Royal story is its decidedly British flavor. What’s that saying? “Americans and British are two peoples divided by a common language”? I found myself time and again pausing to wonder what a word meant, even thought he context is there. For example, what does it mean for a spaceship to lie “doggo”? But that made it fun and fresh and entertaining.
There are space battles, aliens (not enough of them), and illicit sex on the ship. They have an alcoholic captain, an ambitious executive officer and potential for some pretty good subplots. But I felt like the author didn’t go far enough.
If I have a formula for writing, it’s this: put your character in an impossible situation with other characters that he doesn’t get along with. It is only by personal growth and learning to get along that they are able to overcome the impossible odds. If you make it too easy for the main character, if the heroes get along too well, the story goes flat.
In this case, for much of the story, I felt there wasn’t enough conflict between the characters. I felt the aliens weren’t intimidating enough. There is a great conclusion where you find yourself wondering how in the world they will get out of a situation, but even that should have been built up a bit more.
In addition, it was obvious (sadly) that this is an indie book: typos and a cover that could have been better.
The book was fun, and I appreciate its originality and uniqueness. But it could have been better.
I give it three stars out of five.