UPSETTING THE BALANCEA novel by Harry Turtledove
(1996, Del Rey Books)
Worldwar, book 3
The lizards become more aggressive in their attacks on the industrialized nations. Humans battle for Britain, and begin deploying atomic bombs.
-- First reading (paperback)
I could really divide this book up into three parts. The first part is consistent with the last book, where nothing much happened. The characters went about their business, day by day, month by month, with very little happening to them. Once again, it makes the war seem more realistic, and shows how long it is actually going on, but it doesn't make for great reading.
The second part is the invasion of Britain. This part was done really well, I thought. The ultimatum from the British before they dragged out the mustard gas seemed perfectly British. It had me wondering what could be worse than any of the weapons they were employing now, but I had forgotten my World War I history.
The battle was hard fought by both sides, but the British had more to lose, so they fought harder. And the effects on the British by the gas could be seen very well, also. It lowered morale of the lizards, but the effect on the British soldiers was almost as bad, even as they were releasing the stuff.
The third part marks a turning point in the war. The humans are finally able to strike back, but at a price I'm not sure they want to pay.
First, the Chinese, led in part by Liu Han, learn that the lizards like creature shows, so they hide bombs in the cages of the beetles, monkeys, etc., and maim the lizards there. But they don't have the technical expertise of the Western world.
After Russia set off its nuclear bomb at the end of the last book, the lizards were stopped for a while. They didn't know how to deal with it. Now, two more human-built bombs have been exploded in Europe, and two more in the USA. The lizards decided to retaliate bomb for bomb.
So now one Russian city has been destroyed, four German cities, one Italian, five American , and one Japanese city have fallen to these "new" bombs. I can see how both sides will probably become desperate by the next book -desperate for some sort of solution.
One thing I'm glad was cleared up in this book was Jens Larssen. He was very annoying, and I don't know if I could stand any more of him. Let him be killed, or reconciled, I thought. I like the way it was done, too. Finally, it's over. However, I thought Larssen should have pointed out that the city he went to check out should be set up as an alternate site of production. If the Lizards ever discovered Denver's secret, or if they decided to bomb it by way of retaliation, the entire nuclear team and capability of the US would be destroyed. Better to have two or more sites where production could be concealed.
The other characters had minor roles so far. I don't like either the Jewish fighting leader's plot or the Lodz, Soviet Union, plot. I find them unnecessary, so far, anyway. And they are quite dull. I thought Gordova was an interesting character in the earlier books, but now she's become dull, too, perhaps because of the city she's now in.
Two minor characters that did some interesting stuff were Jager and Ussmak. But both seem to be shuffled wherever the plot needs them. Being soldiers, I guess that makes sense. But it feels like they are being used only because they are familiar characters, not because they in particular are needed.
I can't figure out why the lizards would put any of their troops in Siberia. Take over the rest of the world, then come back for the Siberians. But it led to an interesting plot point that I'm sure will come back to haunt the lizards in the final book. This one should be interesting.
Gearing up for the finale, I wonder how events will play out, and what sort of arrangement they must come up with, especially with the lizard colonization fleet still on its way.
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