Nobody does alternative history like Harry Turtledove. Who else could conceive of an alien race striking the Earth at the height of WW II as the nations of Earth try to forget their differences and cooperate in fighting the invaders? Book 1 of the Worldwar series.
This is the first novel in a very long and fascinating series and it starts out with a bang. Turledove has carved his own niche mixing both human vs Aliens and alternate history. Every thing makes sense, it's hard not to believe it is not real. The man has done his research but what else would expect from a History prof.
Daniel R. reviewed In the Balance (Worldwar, Bk 1) on
First for the good. The author has a real feeling for the human characters and in particular the leaders in the book. He also has detailed knowledge of the machines and tactics of WW2. At is base is the question "What if the great empires of the world united against a common foe" and it brings up many interesting situations.
Now for the bad. The aliens are uninspired and uninteresting. Their technology seems analogous to 1970's US tech and I find it hard to believe that any culture mastering interstellar travel would slug it out on the ground with rifles and tanks.
There are sooooo many plot lines and only a few are interesting. I think the author knows this as he begins killing off some of his characters in the second book. I found myself skipping 15 pages at a time to get to a better story line.... and missing nothing in the process. Believe me, you read Turtledove for his plot not for the themes.
I read this book all the way through, although I thought the characters were generally weak (and there are a lot of them!) but after 488 pages I was still left hanging in terms of the story. I would have to read the next one in the series to find out if the good guys win the war, the lovers find each other, what happens when the baby is born, etc. So, for me, this is not a successful book and the writing will not bring me back to more of the series. The premise is interesting (read the description above) but to me all writing, including genre writing, has to have well-developed characters. This does not. I think the novel may be enjoyed more by teenage boys (I don't mean to be offensive, but just a very broad generalization - lots of action, women mostly as objects...) For me....not so much.