Review: Grunt Traitor
Weston Ochse’s GRUNT LIFE was one of my favorite novels released in 2014. It was also one of the finest Military SF novels I’d read, and I’ve been anticipating the sequel ever since. After the follow-up novel, GRUNT TRAITOR, arrived I took it with me on a plane trip…and ended up reading the whole novel that day.
To put it mildly, GRUNT TRAITOR was a page-turner.
With this second novel, I was hoping I’d get some of the same stuff: Military SF with characters that roll up their sleeves and get stuff done. Of course I wanted more of the alien race, the Cray, introduced in book one. I wanted a continuation of the plot threads left dangling at the end of GRUNT LIFE.
But along with all that, I wanted something new.
GRUNT TRAITOR delivered on it all, making it the best Military SF I’ve read in years, and a huge step up (somehow) from the first book in the series.
GRUNT TRAITOR begins with humanity on the ropes. Ben Mason is back, and he’s regarded (by most people) as a hero for his actions in GRUNT LIFE. The victory from that novel was short-lived. Mason already suffered from PTSD before GRUNT LIFE–which is why he and the other soldiers of Task Force Ombra are able to partially resist and have a degree of effectiveness against the Cray. Now Mason has PTSD on top of his PTSD.
One of my favorite aspects of GRUNT TRAITOR is the way in which Ochse candidly explores PTSD, and the different effects it has on different individuals. Sometimes it is debilitating. Sometimes not. It’s always present, but it doesn’t turn every character into a quivering mess in the corner. But it can. As a cake-eating civilian, this is the most logical and realistic portrayal of PTSD I’ve ever read. It helped me understand family and friends in a way I didn’t before.
Apart from the terrific character progression of Mason, I loved the new looks to the Cray. The way they try to take over the earth in more than one single way. It isn’t just the normal Cray anymore. It’s the planet earth being turned against its original occupants. It’s the infusion of similar elements from one of my favorite games of all time, THE LAST OF US.
Even further, how Ochse handled tragedy, love, heroism, grief and loyalty left me speechless. No punches are ever pulled in this novel. Lesser authors would have taken the easy way out. Ochse not only took the hard roads in GRUNT TRAITOR, he thrived on them. And no, I won’t dare get more detailed here. I will not spoil any of this for you. What I can say is that I felt every moment of rage, love, helplessness and pride with the characters…I don’t know how to speak any more highly of Ochse’s skill and the story he has told.
This is usually the part where I point out little things that bothered me. Well, I was bothered that people kept interrupting me when I was reading. I’d just finished the novel, and I turned to my friend with whom I was splitting a room at GenCon and said, “I wish I had GRUNT LIFE with me so I could force you to read it right this minute. Because then you could read GRUNT TRAITOR.” It bothers me that I don’t have book 3 RIGHT NOW.
I have a lot of authors I love and respect. At this moment, I can’t think of a single author that is currently writing Military Science Fiction better than Weston Ochse. It’s not even close.
Read this series. Recommend it to your friends and family. After you have worn out your personal copies, buy them again and read them again. Just sit back and enjoy this, because authors like Weston Ochse don’t come around very often.
Recommended Age: 17+
Profanity: All sorts.
Violence: Holy crap yes, and it is shows Ochse’s Horror roots. Amazing.
Sex: Discussed, but nothing explicit.
Here are your links. Stop messing around. Buy these books: