Friday, August 14, 2015

Collective Retribution by D.S. Edwards

The United States of America is a nation on the brink of collapse. With high unemployment, religious extremism, partisan politics, and civil unrest, mixed with the uncertainty of global financial markets, it's just a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. Some countries are poised, troops at the ready, waiting for this day and the opportunity to seize it all.

Levi Nirschell, family man, rancher, patriot, and NSA operative has devoted his life to the service of his country. He has spilled his own blood, for the cause of liberty and the protection of the innocent. Now his nation calls on him yet again for its salvation. This time it's different, this time it's not just his life that's at stake. This time it may cost him everything he holds dear.

Collective Retribution is a prophetic look at the coming fall of the United States, and those who will be the catalyst in bringing about her destruction. Who will survive? Will America be rebuilt and return to her former glory? Or will she turn into something quite different than the Founding Fathers dreamed of? Something ugly -- something evil. -- Storehouse Entertainment Group

I'll be honest and say this isn't a book I would normally pick up. The apocalyptic or war type genre is not my favorite -- sure, I've read Left Behind, but it's one of my least favorite books ever. But apocalyptic is not what this book is, though I cannot envision America's fall without the Tribulation coming soon after. 

Still, I guess you could say that “war” is a fitting name for this book's genre. I'm not very knowledgeable about weaponry, especially firearms; I'm definitely more well-known to sit down with a contemporary romance or romantic suspense novel than something like this. All that aside, I do enjoy strategies and intelligent writing, both of which D.S. Edwards delivers in his debut novel Collective Retribution.

There's really nothing I can compare this book to to give you guys a solid idea of what it's like -- I guess I'll have to default to my somewhat poor explanation abilities. Edwards doesn't utilize a whole lot of dialogue, because so much of this novel is spent within one man's or one woman's head; it's not a very sociable book, if you know what I mean. Still, Edwards moves everything along at a quick speed; he rarely pauses to bore his readers. Sometimes I did get tired of reading the same ol', same ol' war jargon, but if you're a guy reading this book, you probably won't care about that -- it might even speed the reading along for you. Edwards is a master of technicalities; he doesn't overemphasize the action in any given situation, which actually does act to overemphasize it for the reader. (I've written a whole post about authors “trying too hard” and their works turning out shabby because of it.) Overall, I could easily put his mastery of the English language in the same league as Ally Condie's, while his manipulation of action scenes is probably about as good as J.K. Rowling's or Veronica Roth's -- maybe even better.

Levi Nirschell would be a guy I normally would have trouble connecting with -- I mean, he's around fifty, he has two kids, he's been married for twenty years, he's a government employee. Nope, he's more than that, he's a National Security Agency employee. In spite of all those traits which he and I do not have in common, Edwards writes him in such a personable manner that I enjoyed his “company” immensely. The same can be said for most of the other characters, although when Edwards writes from the point of view of a villain, this level of intimacy the reader shares with the dramatis personae can get all too disturbing -- after all, the President of the U.S. at the time of this novel is utterly disgusting.

There were times when the said villains became so horribly evil that I wondered if they could actually still be realistic. Sure, I know there're corrupt people in the world whose minds are so twisted they think they're doing the right thing . . . like Adolf Hitler or someone similar . . . IDK. I guess I haven't had enough real-life experience with such evil people to know what they're like (which is absolutely a good thing).

To continue along the character route, some of the names Edwards chose for his characters sounded way too old-school for their ages. Debbie for a woman in her late twenties? I don't think I've ever met a Debbie that age. And Larry for a guy in his thirties? Another name I never hear, especially for a man that age.

The only real plot issue there was was Edwards not resolving a certain couple's storyline. The plot culminates brilliantly in the last couple chapters -- it's freaky shocking. Edwards did get a little cheesy in the last few paragraphs of the book, I thought, but whatever. I'm not sure if he could have ended it any other way; it just felt a little like he rushed and didn't focus much on editing that part, maybe?

Altogether, it was a fine book and absolutely worth reading. But because it was a little too stressful for me to want to read it again, I'm going to give it --

3 stars

This book is written for adults. There are war descriptions which are violent, gross, and disturbing; one character also either allows girls he's taken prisoner to be raped by his soldiers or takes them for his own sexual satisfaction. Though nothing graphic is described and it's not inappropriate reading for a mature teenager or adult, these scenes can also be quite disturbing. The book is written by a Christian author and I appreciated the focus Levi Nirschell had on the Lord. Obviously, however, not every character is a Christian, and the villains are, as I said above, evil.

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