Recommend by: Riley
The Dred Chronicles series by Ann Aguirre is gritty and dark Sci Fi that seems to have gotten me hooked despite the fact that violence is a main ingredient in the story line. Havoc, like it’s predecessor Perdition, is not for the faint of heart. But this series is worth reading for the story of the prisoners with strength and determination to do more than just survive.
Perdition is an abandoned space station that is used to house people the Conglomeration does not want to deal with. Most are hardened criminals that are deposited on Perdition and left to fend for themselves.
Dred is the leader of Queensland, a territory within Perdition. Jael is her non-human Bred champion. His superior strength, senses and healing abilities make him a force to be reckoned with. Both Dred and Jael have terrible, violent histories but in that regard, they are no different than 99% of the people on Perdition. The people of Queensland have evolved into a cohesive population with rules and a modicum of civilization. Oh, they are still a violent group, but there are rules that contain the violence to a manageable, almost civil level. Of the remaining groups in Perdition Queensland’s people are perhaps the sanest. There are other groups in other territories, but they are pretty much the opposite of sane.
In Havoc, Perdition is invaded by a group of mercenaries that have been hired to wipe out the population so that the Conglomerate can repurpose Perdition and quit spending resources on the prisoners.
So the war begins.
Perdition is under attack and it seems this is a war that cannot be won. Hopelessness abounds. But to some of Perdition’s residents, that does not mean giving up. While I read, I felt the desperateness of the situation, but kept hoping that the Queenslanders would come up with a miracle. But miracles are rare, especially in a place like Perdition.
Dred and her people are fighting not only the Conglomerate mercenaries, but also the other factions in Perdition. They are out-manned, out-gunned and out-teched. But they are smart and have a few resources that, if used wisely, might just keep them alive.
The people of Queensland have a leader that actually cares for them. Outwardly, Dred is a brutish as the next Queenslander, but inwardly, she feels the burden of leadership. Jael is there to support her. Not only in terms of running the territory, but also on a personal level. I have watched the slow development of this relationship that started in Perdition and continues in Havoc. These are two very lonely and terribly broken people and despite their criminal pasts, I found myself cheering for them.
Or maybe I was just cheering for the underdogs. With each little reconnaissance mission, each little conflict, every big battle, every death and each life saved you get to know the Queenslanders just a little more. You figure out who is dangerous, who can’t be trusted, who is insane and, eventually, who will betray their fellow prisoners. But you also learn who is smart, who is brave, who is honorable, and who will defend their comrades to the end. War brings out worst and the best, but maybe even more so with hardened criminals.
Not every page of Havoc is dedicated to war. You will also find drinking and celebration, joking, and personal revelations. The occasional break in the conflict allows the Queenslanders to be more than guerilla soldiers. They become people too.
Havoc has several secondary characters that are as important as Dred and Jael. While the heroine and hero account for the small, but important bit of romance in the story, when you add the rest of the supporting cast, the entire range of human/alien emotions are brought into the story. Ike, Tam, Martine, Calypso, Brahm, Ali, Katur, Keelah, and Vost are key parts of this adventure and Havoc is a richer story for having them all in it.
If you have not read book 1 in the series, Perdition, I recommend you start there before reading Havoc. For my part – now, I really need to see how this story plays out. Breakout, #3 in this series released on August 25th. So I’ll be adding that one to my e-reader.