Earth Awakens (The First Formic War)
by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
Edited by Beth Meacham
Cover Artist: John Harris
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765329066
Date: 10 June 2014 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Earth Awakens completes the First Formic War trilogy by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. Most of the characters from the previous two volumes ( Earth Unaware and Earth Afire) continue their struggle against the Formic invasion. In short, an alien species bent on terraforming the Earth has been detected and skirmishes with humans as the aliens attempt to take over the Earth. In Earth Awakens, the attacks continue.
The various groups fighting the aliens discover they are a species akin to insects such as ants, bees, wasps, etc. They communicate over long distances almost instantaneously. Except killing individual members and destroying their landers, the humans have learned little about them or their technology. They first attacked the Chinese who initially refused offers of assistance from other nations. The Formics relentlessly attack and destroy Chinese cities and kill everything in their path.
The Mobile Operations Police team led by Captain Wit O'Toole with Mazer Rackham, a half-Maori, as pilot, succeeded in destroying a Formic lander. At the novel opening, the team's survival is in doubt. The remaining members of the team along with Bingwen, an eight-year-old Chinese orphan, debate what to do next. Once they learn the Chinese have capture O'Toole, they plan a response. Highly intelligent, Bingwen helps them draft a communiqué to both the media and to the Chinese giving General Suma credit for the lander destruction. It ensures survival of the remaining team members.
Action alternates between the MOP personnel; Bingwen; Lem Jukes, the son of the CEO of the mega corporation controlling munitions, space vehicles, and asteroid mining; Vico and Imala, former free miners attempt to enter the Formic command ship; and Rena, Vico’s mother, aboard a salvage ship.
The narrative is heavy on suspense and action with plenty of political maneuvering to fuel endless complications. While Earth Awakens completes the First Formic War, the ending indicates more challenges to come. Indeed, Aaron Johnston has announced a second trilogy, the Second Formic War. Individual titles are: the Swarm, the Hive, and the Queens.