Another Review at MyShelf.Com


By Robert Buettner

     Seventeen-year-old Jason Wander finds himself alone in the world after a large projectile, launched from outer space, hits Indianapolis, killing his mother. The earth is under attack from a mysterious alien race intent on destroying humanity. Millions are already dead, and the world is gripped in a stranglehold of fear and anger.

     Jason's own rage lands him in front of a concerned judge who gives him a choice between jail and the Army. Jason chooses the Army, hoping to exact some kind of revenge against the alien Slugs who made him an orphan. But boot camp turns out to be more challenging than he expects, and he makes a fatal mistake that results in the death of a friend. Facing court martial, Jason realizes that the Army is the only thing he has left --and the only thing he really wants. Once again, the judge who originally guided him into the military steps in, providing him with a final chance to make something out of his life. This time, Jason decides that he is willing to do whatever it takes to become the kind of soldier--and man--he knows he has the potential to become. Eventually, he ends up on the moon, taking on the Slugs in a fight for the future of all mankind.

     Orphanage is written in first person, allowing the reader a peek into Jason Wander's soul. Author Robert Buettner's style is so rich with authentic emotion that we are easily able to identify and empathize with his protagonist, as well as with his other well-defined characters. Jason is unique and imperfect and his reactions are understandable. This is not a one-dimensional hero; this is a human being the reader can relate to. We personally experience his metamorphosis from an angry juvenile delinquent into a courageous young man who eventually turns his tragedies into triumphs.

     I was relieved to discover that Buettner does not allow himself to fall into the trap created through many science fiction novels. Characterization and plot can sometimes be lost in the fascination with invented worlds, scientific terms, and bizarre alien creatures. I confess that I often find my mind wandering when having to wade through layers of imaginary and intricate window dressing, trying to rediscover the lost plot of a science fiction or fantasy novel. Not so with Buettner's Orphanage. The author knows how to skillfully use his tools, and he does a masterful job.

     Orphange is fast-paced, memorable, and quite outstanding. Buettner is working on the sequel. I can hardly wait. Highest recommendation!

The Book

Aspect (Warner)
November 2004
Mass Market Paperback
Science Fiction
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NOTE: Some Explicit Language

The Reviewer

Nancy Mehl
Reviewed 2005
© 2005