Sergeant Ethan Stark commands a tight-knit squad of future American soldiers, fighting under often-incompetent officers against foreign forces on Earth's moon. Sergeant Stark is the leader of an American combat squad, an soldier in a not-so-futuristic American army. They've been sent to the moon, along with many other squads, like the one commanded by his best friend Vic Reynolds. Unfortunately, they're not defending Earth from aliens, they're working on missions for the government back at home. Their officers are, to put it bluntly, incompetent. They try to micro-manage, try to keep everyone on timeline even when it's impossible, and don't even provide the necessary equipment sometimes so they can save money. Their mission isn't even altruistic: Essentially, America dominates the Earth—now they want to dominate the moon too.
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Stark and his squad are a tight-knit group though, and Stark is no fool. Their armor is wired with technology, but Stark has back-doors to all the essential things. He can listen in on his officers' conversations. In a flashback to their mission to a jungle island, we learn he obtained a program that allowed his squad to fire more than the allowed amount of ammo (when needed, of course). And when he gets orders he disagrees with, sometimes his equipment...”malfunctions.” In addition, like many other soldiers, he has a program that would allow him to disable his officers' suits and equipment, cutting them out of the chain of command (though not killing them). It's called a “frag” program. He's never used it. Yet.
But when they're sent to the moon, sometimes he's tempted to. Their officers are as incompetent as ever. And to top it all off, videos of their missions are being sent back to Earth almost real-time, to entertain the civilians and make ad money for the government. They find out about this after a small lunar mission in which they take over a foreign civilian science compound. It's one of many such missions carried out by the American army. But then the other countries send troops to the moon. They want the moon back. They want their chance to be powerful again, even if it's only on the moon. They attack.
The troops fall back to the American lunar colony, with Stark and his squad initiating the small counter-attack that ensures that they don't get overrun by the enemy (against orders, of course). They hold, and both sides dig in.
After that, both sides take turns attacking, and the conflict lasts for years. Stark and his unit are among the combatants. During one mission, Stark covers his unit's retreat, nearly dying of his wounds, though he is rescued in the end. But the war itself doesn't seem to be accomplishing much. Then the American general comes up with a plan: An all-out attack. Throw everything at the enemy. They do so, accomplishing nothing and sustaining devastating casualties, but no one in command is willing to halt the attack. Finally Stark has had enough. He frags his officer, causing others to do so as well, until the whole army is in mutiny. He stops the attack, saving what's left of the American forces. And now a Sergeant is in charge of the American lunar army...
To be continued in the next book.
Best part of story, including ending:
I really enjoyed the interaction between Stark and his soldiers, and between Stark and his best friend Vic Reynolds. The book doesn't really have romance in it, just friendship, and I liked that interaction, especially between two soldiers of opposite genders. Also, the book has its comical moments. I liked that too. The action scenes weren't bad either, and it was nice to read about someone who was a hero, even in an imperfect army.
Best scene in story:
I like the scene where Stark tells off General Meecham (who ordered the pointless attack) after Stark takes over Meecham's army.
Opinion about the main character:
Sergeant Stark is not perfect, but he seems like a really good leader, who cares about his troops and is willing to lay down his life for them.