Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos
Earth is polluted and overcrowded. With a huge divide between the middle-class and the poor (‘welfare rats’), most peoples’ only chance at a better life is either winning a lottery ticket to leave for the colonies, or to enlist in the North American Commonwealth’s interstellar armed forces. For young Andrew Grayson, the later is his ticket out of the slums.
Terms of Enlistment caught my eye in a Kindle sale, so I parted with my 99p and started reading. Before I knew it I was a quarter of the way through. I finished it in two days.
I’ve not read a straight military sci-fi novel before, but having seen reviewers’ comparisons to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Written in first-person perspective, Terms of Enlistment flows at a brisk pace. The writing isn’t particularly descriptive, but I didn’t find that hampered the story. In fact, I fully attribute my brisk finishing time of the book to the author’s easy writing style.
Terms of Enlistment is certainly a plot-driven book with characters being largely forgettable — including the protagonist. Ideally I would have liked to have seen more personal conflict in the first act of the book. I felt throughout the story that Grayson was just lucky because there was no sense of him struggling to overcome his disadvantaged background.
The world-building was also lacking. The first major combat scene in the book (reminiscent of Black Hawk Down) raised a lot of questions about the structure and dynamics of Terms of Enlistment’s future society, but this was quickly sidelined by the story moving in a completely different direction. I think that too much exposition regarding the cause of Earth’s future conflicts would have slowed the book, but had it been sprinkled throughout the story, it would have enriched the story as a whole.
Finally, it’s clear that Terms of Enlistment is not a stand-alone book. With a new threat introduced towards the end, it’s a launching pad for a series of several books. With this in mind, I’m intrigued to see if there is more attention given to the characters and the world they inhabit further on in the series.
I would recommend Terms of Enlistment as an easy and enjoyable read, even though it was lacking in depth. I will be reading the next in the series.