Empire by Orson Scott Card, 2006.
I read this book for the Cardathon challenge and the R.I.P. II challenge. I have mixed views on this one. It's not that I disliked it, I didn't. But I didn't love it. The characters, well, I liked them. But this was more about premise than action or characters. (There was plenty of action, believe me, but you never forgot that it was action based on a certain premise.) Politics. Media. Scary subjects for those liking to remain neutral observers of the world around them. The novel is about the polarization of America into red and blue. Conservative and liberals. Republicans and Democrats. Radical views. Strict dogmas. Plenty of rhetoric and media coverage. No middle ground. The situation in this future-America is bleak. The country is divided--strongly divided. There are people--hundreds of thousands if not millions--that hate the President and his particular party. Congress is divided as well. These two parties are always at ends with one another. Can't see eye to eye on anything. Determined to disagree on even the smallest issue. Compromise is never an option. They fight and bicker over everything. In this charged environment, a few men in the military are working on a secret secret project. A project that leads to a destructive climax. Well, not a climax so much as an opening premise. Reuben Malich--Major Malich--is working on a top-secret project that supposedly came directly from the White House. He's supposed to write up a plan on how to assassinate the President, so that they can then work on ways to prevent such an attack. He's playing devil's advocate if you will. He's supposed to think like a criminal and find the weaknesses in the system. The problem? He's being used--set up--by the bad guys. His plans become the plan that actually works at crippling the nation as we know it. The president, vice president, and secretary of defense (as well as a lot of other people) are killed--murdered. Now it is up to Reuben and his few friends--including his new assistant Captain Coleman to find out just who these "bad guys" are and uncover the whole plot. The plot is complex, not difficult to dissect afterwards, but a mystery while you're reading it. I can't really go into it here. The characters were okay for me. But none of them were developed that well. None of them were particularly strong or outstanding. The action was fast-paced. But again, it was driven by the premise of "what if????" And while the premise is arguably interesting in and of itself, I don't know that it was enough to carry the novel alone. This one had no tidy ending either. So it's one of those where you have to try to guess what would happen next. So instead of having a rather boring but satisfactory "Ah, America will be okay and everything is back to normal and just as it should be" feeling, you're left with a bit of angst. Am I glad I read it? Definitely. Did it make me think? Sure. Is it my least favorite Card novel? No. But it doesn't come close to my top ten.
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