I’ve never done a book review before on here before, but as I’m trying to expand my horizons and read more sci-fi and stuff, I decided I might as well start. However, this isn’t exactly a typical book review, as it will involve my analyzation of the author’s style of writing and why the plot/setting/characters work or don’t work, since I think that’ll be more useful to writers.
Today’s book is Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. The book follows Juan “Johnnie” Rico as he joins the infantry during “The Bug War”, fighting against alien Bugs. There are a few points I’d like to touch on for this book.
The book was written in first person, from Johnnie’s POV, and I found the narration to be very unique in the fact that it sounded like he was writing his experiences down at a later point rather than it happening right now. The way he wrote fit with autobiographies and journals I’ve read, making the story seem realistic even though it was taking place in an almost completely different world than ours.
Another thing that added to the realism of the narration was that when Johnnie would explain things to the readers, he would only explain things that people of his time period wouldn’t understand, not going into detail about things that the people should know about, even if the readers didn’t, which I thought helped a lot.
In this system of government, to be able to get citizenship and vote, one would have to serve in the military for a term of at least two years, and the military only accepts volunteers, which I found to be a very unique and interesting premise. The idea is that, by choosing to fight for others, you’ll fight for better laws and rights as well.
“Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.
“…Social responsibility above the level of family, or at most of tribe, requires imagination–devotion, loyalty, all the higher virtues–which a man must develop himself.”
The most prominent technology used in this book were the powered suits. They work through negative feedback, which I don’t really understand, except that when you move, it moves, it allows you to jump higher and farther, you can communicate with other people, ther’es lots of guns and bombs, and you can do all sorts of other cool things with it. Johnnie describes it as looking like “a big steel gorilla, armed with gorilla-sized weapons”.
The M.I. (the Mobile Infantry) are dropped from spaceships in shells that wear away as they travel through the planet’s atmosphere, letting them land on the ground in their powered suits in order to complete whatever objective they’re ordered to. They’re called “drops” and the first chapter starts out with one of them.
NOT MUCH PLOT
While there is the plot of Johnnie moving through his life in the military and kind of a growing up plotline, there wasn’t a defined big plot to get out of it, like there is in most adventure/fantasy/sci-fi books.
That doesn’t mean the plot was bad, though. It actually fit with the rest of the book, especially with the autobiography-like narration. The style of the plot reminded me of old classics, where it’s about someone’s life, but it’s not arranged in this saving-the-world plot or anything.
I actually thought this added a little bit to the realism of the book (though I do wish there was a bit more of a climax at the end) because in a person’s life it’s not like they normally have that sort of perfectly organized plot line in a lot of books.
STRONG MORALS & THEMES
The reason why this book is considered controversial to many people is because they think Heinlein wrote it simply to add in his own beliefs on how the military and government should work. Maybe he did, but I thought they were really interesting and added to the development of the government and military.
Some of the beliefs I didn’t quite agree with, but some of them I did. The moral that I liked the most out of this novel was the element of loyalty between the soldiers.
But you don’t walk away on another cap trooper, not while there’s a chance he’s still alive–not in Rasczak’s Roughnecks. Not in any outfit of the Mobile Infantry.
WHAT I LEARNED
The main thing that I learned was that a science-fiction novel doesn’t necessarily have to be an adventure-ish novel–it can be just as interesting and popular while using a “classic” style, and I also learned a lot about the life of someone in the lower ranks of military. And other stuff too, but my mind doesn’t want to work right now for some reason.
Overall, I thought this was a great book, and I found it to be a very interesting read. I ended up really liking it, even though it wasn’t what I expected, and I recommend it.
Have you ever read/heard of Starship Troopers? Was this book review helpful or merely interesting (or even uninteresting)? Do you have any advice for future book reviews? I’d like to improve my reviewing skills. And do you have any suggestions of books I should read? I’m mainly focusing on reading science fiction right now, but I love other genres too.