The year is 2019, and the United States is engaged in a losing war. Allied with the remnants of the Russian Federation, the United States is fighting the Chinese, North Koreans, and renegade Russians all across the Siberian wilderness. Unfortunately, the Americans and their Russian allies are out-gunned and outnumbered. In a desperate bid to keep from losing this war, the Americans call up on the one resource they have in abundance: convicts. From arsonists to murderers, these men and women are treated as expendable soldiers, cannon fodder to stem the Chinese onslaught. Life for the convict soldiers is grim and survival is unlikely. For most of them, they can only hope they survive until tomorrow, nevermind the war.
Nick Morrow is one such convict, sent to Russia for his crimes. Nick is assigned to the titular 47 Echo. The Echo units are suicide squads, the most expendable soldiers in the entire army. Nick's odds of survival are slim, but he has a few things that might help him in the war. Nick's mom was a Chinese immigrant and taught him Mandarin as he was growing up. Nick's skill as a translator is what initially gets him positive attention from the military officers that supervise the convict battalions. Nick also proves to be a natural soldier, taking after his Navy SEAL father. With skill, discipline and a little luck, Nick may manage to help not only himself but also his unit survive this devastating war.
47 Echo, by Shawn Kupfer, appears to be the first of a new series of books. It does a good job of establishing the setting, and Kupfer's knowledge of military hardware seems robust. The setting is "ten minutes into the future" so while many things are familiar to us, there are a few things that are changed. Technology is advanced, but at a believable rate. Hybrid vehicles and computers are the backbone of tomorrow's military. Although the future war is grim, the technological gadgets look really cool.
I assume this book is the first in a series because the novel mentions missions of 47 Echo beyond the ones in this novel. As a first book, it's still a little rough around the edges. The writing needs a little work and the characters could be fleshed out a little. HOWEVER this is not a bad thing. In future novels Kupfer can flesh out his characters and develop his writing style, and I look forward to seeing it develop. Overall, a pretty good book with plenty of potential for the future. Getting three and a half sheep.
Shawn's book is available as an e-book here.
Adventurer's Rule #7: Never pass up a free dessert.