Friday, November 20, 2015

James Review -- Mecha Corps

This week I decided to review Mecha Corps by Brett Patton.
The story opens with Matt Lowell about to arrive on Earth. While Earth is a backwater world, it is also the location of the training camp for the pilots of the biomechanical mecha which are one of the Universal Union’s main advantages in their long-running conflict with the Corsair Confederacy.
After a training exercise, where the cadets believe they are facing live ammo, the remaining cadets are put through the Mind Raze to test their ability to link their brains with the Mecha. For Matt, who possesses a perfect memory, this forces him to relive the incident which made him choose to become a mecha pilot. When Matt was six years old, Corsairs raided the lab where his father was doing research. Matt managed to activate a Power Loader and attacked the Corsair leader but was defeated, and he then discovered that the enemy leader is a Humax, one of a group of genetically engineered humans who were believed to be wiped out after they tried to conquer the rest of humanity. The leader spared Matt, impressed by his courage, but killed his father.
After the flashback, the cadets spend some time getting to know each other before another training exercise, involving teams of three piloting a submersible craft through an underwater battle to reach the real training camp. Matt performs brilliantly, often better then those who have completed training.
After an incident during a combat exercise, Matt and his remaining classmates are offered the chance to be test pilots for the next generation Demon class mecha. After arriving at the distant and well-hidden Mecha Base, the training for the new units begins. But an exercise in merging multiple Demons into one turns into an utter disaster killing one cadet, the rest of the team are removed from the Demon program.
Eventually Rayder, the most feared of the Corsair’s leaders, captures a Union ship, a number of mecha, and their pilots, including one of the former Demon trainees, and reveals his face. Matt recognizes him as the Corsair who killed his father. Matt is soon told the truth that his father was seeking clues to the location of a missing Humax colony but was killed before he could reveal what he had found to the Union.
Matt leads a mission to the world where his father died but, after the Corsair locate and attack Mecha Base, Matt and what’s left of his team must mount a desperate defense before launching a strike into the heart of enemy territory with what strength they have left.
I give this book 7 out of 10. The characters and the development of their relationships and back stories are interesting but I wish we had been given more details on the setting. Also, the battle sequences are either OK at best or bland at worst. Finally, the author really needs to work on finding better names for nations and bases. Universal Union, and Corsair Confederacy are both poor names for organizations in my opinion, and if Mecha Base was the best idea the author could come up with for a name for the Mecha Corps headquarters, he should consider hiring someone to name such things for him in any books he writes in the future.

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