By Robert Beuttner
I grew up on Stormship Troopers, Ender’s Game, and The Forever War. But there is a gap in my education. I got the bug (no pun intended) to fill in the gaps, so I checked out some best-of lists online. I bought a bunch used on Amazon. Among them was Orphange.
It follows the classic story. Aliens attack earth. The world comes together to defeat them. A young man is a brilliant under-achiever. He is faced with a choice to become a grunt or go to jail. He goes to boot camp. He butts heads with the drill sergeant, who secretly respects the talents of the young under-achieving screw-up. He gets punished to learn a lesson, cleaning latrines with a tooth brush. Someone dies during live fire drills. He nearly gets booted out, but is saved in the last moment.
He falls for a gorgeous woman, a paper-thin (I mean this in that she has no depth, other than she’s a babe) character , who– of course– dies tragically so that the hero can pull emotional strength later in the story.
Our hero goes into battle. Things go tragically badly. The force is reduced to a shadow of its original strength. Hero gets field promotions until he (even I couldn’t really swallow this one) becomes the general in charge of all forces in an invasion against the enemy.
Orphanage contained too much humor in some places, so much so that I couldn’t take the aliens as a real threat. The aliens followed the classic hive mind trope. They can’t kill all of the little aliens because there are too many of them. But if they can just kill the mother alien then all the worker bees will lose direction or die.
Short to Medium length novel story short, the book is full of tropes with little to no originality. It read fast. Like eating greasy barbecue potato chips.