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Road to Hell Paperback – Dec 6 2011
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Personal self-defense is normally an easy concept to understand and justify. Though the particulars vary, it's a rare society or group that insists a person passively accept death or harm. Self-defense of a society is a trickier thing. Societies also defend themselves, but part of that is defending the values and ideologies of the society. Even defensive war, by its nature, is still organized mass killing. The various ethical and moral considerations involved in warfare have been debated throughout the entirety of human history. At what point, though, does self-defense trump all other considerations?
Krista D. Ball's military science fiction thriller Road To Hell explores such ethical conundrums through one Captain Katherine Francis, a military officer in a democratic and pluralistic interstellar society, the Union of Planets. The Union is hard pressed by a vicious invading enemy, and the only hope is to somehow involve the neutral Alliance. Unfortunately, the Union's restrictive Ethics Laws may mean that Captain Francis will have to sacrifice herself to save the Union.
Ethical issues may not, on the surface, sound like the most exciting subject for a military science fiction novel, but the book's intense focus on character provides more than enough drama sustain interest. In addition, the actual ethical dilemmas are explored nicely through their consequences on Captain Francis and those around her. While a somewhat more morally nuanced enemy may have heightened the overall complexity of the main ethics question, the progression in what Captain Francis is willing to do, and who she's willing to harm, is interesting.
The psychological portrait of Captain Francis is well-rendered. The brisk pacing doesn't always leave time for full exploration of everyone who is introduced, but all the characters still come off as realistic people with realistic motivations. I particularly enjoyed the presentation of a shadowy expatriate whose motivation and loyalties remain teasingly unclear throughout.
The setting is unobtrusively developed. The future painted he story isn't particularly exotic. All the factions are human, and the technologies and cultures a reasonable extrapolation from the present for the most part. This is effective in highlighting that this is fundamentally a story about an age-old human problem.
The plot unfolds briskly and at a satisfying pace. My only real quibble is that the book is on the shorter side, and I would have liked to have had a bit more time to see the effects of everything implemented. Though I suppose that really just means I'm asking for a sequel.
The characters are very likable and Captain Catherine Francis is a very memorable and strong protagonist. I like that she is strong and every bit a leader, yet very human and easy to relate to.
The plot is engaging and captivates the reader. As an avid reader I'm pretty picky about what I do and don't like and I couldn't find anything unlikable here. The book is a definite keeper.
I'll be keeping my eye out for more works by this talented woman.
I really liked this book. The characters are well written and I especially like Captain Francis. She is strong but yet still very human. The story itself keeps you turning pages to find out what happens. Even if you're not a fan of this genre I would recommend this book. I won this from Goodreads
Once her decision was made to bend the Ethics Laws, it seems like things went from bad to worse very quickly. Quick thinking and quick action plow through these obstacles and ultimately the Alliance is brought into the war on the side of the Union. Was it worth the cost Katherine and others had to pay? We won't know until the war against the Coalition is truly joined. This was over too quickly for me and I'm left wanting to know what happens next. I will be watching and waiting for the next book!