Rating: 6.3 (out of 10)
Kloos’ Frontlines has been my favorite MilSF comfort food for the last few years. On the surface, Points of Impact, has all the qualities that endeared the series to me: crisp, tense action scenes, tight and efficient storytelling, sympathetic yet flawed characters. Most impressively, over the course of the first five books, each entry has improved upon the last.
It’s sad to say that streak has come to an end with Points of Impact. It became clear to me about halfway through book six that Kloos was kind of spinning his wheels here. The premise revolves around the development of a new armored battle cruiser designed to take out Lanky seed ships with ease. Most of the first two thirds of the novel has the Earth alliance taking their new toy for a practice spin, with Andrew and Halley both crewing up but, due to some pretty flimsy reasoning, separated because of a confounding regulation that keeps married couples from bunking together (?!?).
Notably, one of Kloos’ flaws as a writer is his unwillingness to step outside of his comfort zone with his characters. It’s particularly frustrating in this entry, as the most intriguing early development in the story finds Andrew diagnosed with PTSD – a thread that Kloos fails to explore adequately. Kudos to him for introducing such an important topic to the series, rather than just pretending it isn’t there (as our present-day military would prefer to do). Hopefully he will offer more on the subject in future books.
I still love the details about military culture that Kloos is so good at depicting, and the climax delivers the usual goods. Kloos hasn’t necessarily lost his touch, but his momentum has definitely stalled.