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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Audible Book Review: Zero Hour, Expeditionary Force, Book 5, by Craig Alanson

I enjoyed this episode - more snark, off -key singing, and action.
Zero Hour
Expeditionary Force, Book 5
By: Craig Alanson
Narrated by: R. C. Bray

Zero Hour audiobook cover art
Length: 17 hrs and 20 mins
Release date: 02-06-18
Publisher: Podium Audio
Genre: Adventure, Military, Space Opera
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0 Overall; Story 4.5; Narration 4.75.

Publisher's Summary
United Nations Special Operations Command sent an elite expeditionary force of soldiers and pilots out on a simple recon mission, and somehow along the way they sparked an alien civil war. Now the not-at-all-merry band of pirates is in desperate trouble, again. Their stolen alien starship is falling apart, thousands of light years from home. The ancient alien AI they nicknamed Skippy is apparently dead, and even if they can by some miracle revive him, he might never be the same.
©2017 Craig Alanson; 2018 Podium Publishing

The super awesome AI “Skippy” has disappeared into a canister leaving Captain Joe Bishop and the ‘merry band of pirates’ without the ability to fix the failing, pieced together alien starship, much less face any potential enemies. And the likelihood they can get home safely is pretty much nonexistent.

Small Spoiler Alert:
Skippy does return from the canister but only as a small portion of himself with the main part of his systems trapped and hidden from the enemy worm in the can. Unless the crew and Skippy can find elder technology to allow Skippy a back door to spring a surprise attack on the worm, Skippy’s existence is counting down to a “Zero Hour”.

The banter between Skippy and Joe continues as they struggle to come up with ‘miracles’, even if they are ‘monkey-brained ideas’, to get out of each trouble spot that Skippy helps get them into. I love the banter and I laughed out loud at Skippy’s musical entertainments.

The pattern does repeat: the crew faces catastrophe, brilliant AI Skippy’s solution fails, the monkey-brain humans (particularly Joe) comes up with an off the wall, last minute plan that works (to Skippy’s dismay), there is a short celebration before the next catastrophe appears. Still, the process is entertaining.

This series is an easy listen which means I can drive while listening because I don’t have to have a strong focus on tracking new characters or complex plot lines. There is plenty of danger, action and some plot twists to keep it interesting. The author provides a plot twist that will clearly lead to a new problem, not planned for by the crew, in the next episode. I will be picking up the next book in the near future. I recommend this series to fans of military space opera and I suggest starting from the beginning to get to know the characters and enjoy the ride of danger and fun.

Audio Notes:
R. C. Bray as the narrator is a big plus to the story for me. He presents voices to fit the characters, including various aliens. His off-key singing is great fun! The narration definitely adds to my enjoyment of the series.

Source: 3/14/2020 Two For One Credit Sale at Audible. This qualifies for 2021TBR, 2021Audiobook, and 2021Alphabet goals.

Prior book reviews:
Columbus Day (Expeditionary Force, #1) by Craig Alanson, Rating 4.5
Audible Book Review: Spec Ops, Expeditionary Force, Book 2 by Craig Alanson, Rating 4.5
Audible Book Review: Paradise, Expeditionary Force, Book 3 by Craig Alanson, Rating 4.5
Audible Book Review: Black Ops, Expeditionary Force, Book 4, by Craig Alanson, Rating 4.5

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