Book Review: Mechanical Failure

OK, so here's the deal with this book, guys. The first chapter tries too hard. Like, way too hard. It feels like that person at a party who makes really terrible jokes and then laughs far too much at them, while the rest of the room makes cricket noises. It's painfully awkward.

Get through it.

Because the rest is...genius. Utterly hilarious, wonderful, genius military sci-fi.

After getting arrested for smuggling, Sergeant R. Wilson Rogers returns to the military, but it's not like his first stint. His first stint was one long party, with beer lights and very little work done. But now the military appears to be gearing up for an actual war, there are bizarre transfers taking place, and a bunch of suspicious droids are roaming the ship hanging posters...

I confess that military sci-fi isn't usually my thing. Sure, I've read a few, but I'll gravitate toward a lot of other stuff first. My husband found this book at Barnes & Noble and about died after reading the back cover, and I read it on his strong recommendation. 

It has a lot going for it, not least of which is the humor. This is probably the most I've laughed at a book in years. After the flop of a first chapter, the book becomes effortlessly funny through a combination of witty dialogue and brilliant situational humor. Much of the humor is set up early on and pays off in spades later int the book. There's a robot who can't swear and censors himself. Rodgers gets put in charge of a robot unit, wrecks it magnificently and then gets promoted - twice. Picture an angry cat in zero gravity and a murderous barber-robot hellbent on giving Rogers a shave. And just wait until you reach the droid fu. 

Setting the humor aside, you've still got great characters. Rodgers grows on you as time passes and he becomes less of a slacker. His self-censoring sidekick robot Deet was probably my favorite character; unlike the rest of the robots, he is a special prototype, meaning that he speaks normally and is learning to comprehend human emotions (including humor, causing several great lines). There's the zookeeper and his animals, the Zapp Branigan-esque admiral who gives rousing speeches to hide his incompetence, the Amazonian marine whom Rogers crushes on...I mean, I can keep going. 

The plot drags its heels a bit at the beginning as Zieja develops the environment, but it's never boring. And once you reach the crucial tipping point (Rogers' promotion), everything shifts into high gear and doesn't let go for the rest of the book. It's also not a long read, which means you can knock it out in a few good hours if you have the time.

If you're looking for a read full of philosophy and Deep Thoughts, then this is probably not your book. But if you're looking for an entertaining romp and a great laugh, go pick this book up now. 

And then get excited - because it's a SERIES. And there will be MORE.

Grade: 4.5/5

Memorable Quote

Anyway,” Rogers said, looking up at the ceiling, “what are you doing down here? Droids need to be fully wiped before they’re destroyed. And how did you get all that damage?”
”It was those EXPLETIVE pieces of OBSCENITIES in the maintenance bay!” the droid said in a burst of volume. “They have their heads so far up their ANATOMICAL REFERENCE that they can’t think straight!
— Mechanical Failure, pg. 176