Cartwright's CavaliersCartwright’s Cavaliers
Year: 2016
Author: Mark Wandrey
Length: 473 pages

I don’t generally read military sci-fi, but I picked this book up for free and thought I’d give it a try. Cartwright’s Cavaliers certainly has its strengths. The action sequences are well-described, and the origin story of the main character was a unique setup that seems like it would be uncommon in the military sci-fi genre. That being said, Cartwright’s Cavaliers has a strong start but bumbles along to the point of being cringe-inducing by the end. It’s unfortunate, considering how it could have been better if it had stuck to some of the more common tropes of the genre instead of focusing on a (mostly) unlikeable protagonist.

Aside from a sprinkling of typos and proofreading errors, my main qualm with this book is the main character: Jim Cartwright. About one-third of the way through the book, he is revealed to be a fan of an animated series that was popular with men of his body type and disposition, and the cringe-inducing moments just build from there. I’ll grant that giving the main character these characteristics is a bold and seldom-seen move, but there’s also a reason why extreme nerds aren’t usually presented as heroes. The scenarios that play out from there broke my suspension of disbelief over and over again. After all, if this is set in the future, then someone like Jim would be equivalent to a 20-year-old man from 2020 who obsesses over flappers and the films of Charlie Chaplin.

The writing is also passable, with a pace the moves the story along. However, the writing style seems more suited for a comic book than a novel. Many of the actions of the main character might get a laugh if they were illustrated but come across more like an immature man-child who manages to bumble his way through life, getting lucky at every turn. In fact, the moment the book introduces his “girlfriend,” I had to throw up my arms in frustration because, of course, she’d be super attractive and totally into him without any solid logic or reasoning as to why.

A cringe-inducing main character in a pretty great military sci-fi, I give Cartwright’s Cavaliers 2.5 stars out of 5.

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