When I initially started reading this series, I put it under the category of alternate history, even though it was about the future. I did that largely due to the weaponry. Although it’s set 20 years in the future, I didn’t see the types of weapons being developed described in the books. I also thought the United States falling so far from the pedestal of world leader was pure fiction. I might have been right about the weapons, but the condition of the United States as described might be more true than I wanted to believe.
Invasion: California is the second book in the series. A series of environmental events has caused the earth to cool off, making American farmland quite valuable. Having been repelled in their invasion of Alaska in the previous novel, the Chinese set their sights on invading from the south through Mexico and take aim at California. They control Mexico through a Pan Asian Alliance involving Brazil and Germany seems poised to invade from Cuba.
The United States is suffering from the consequences of overspending. They are down but not out. They have weapons in development to counter the invasion, but much of it is untested and untried, and also under-produced.
A variety of characters tell the story of the fighting on both sides. There is a lot of “hurry up and wait” but there is also a lot of action. Fighting through the populated areas of southern California is as difficult as any urban fighting would be. As the invaders, the Pan Asian Alliance must deal with fighting coming from building after building as they attempt to make process, all the while having pressure put on them from back in Beijing.
The characters are interesting, and this is where it feels very much like a Harry Turtledove novel. Heppner follows the characters as they do battle and the fact that some stay alive as long as they do and end up in the situations they do feels a bit too convenient at times. It’s forgivable because the story is really good. There isn’t a lot of depth to the characters. We’re given a little about their backgrounds and what motivates them, but not much else. That’s okay, because they are mainly there to propel this story along.
The entire series is heavy on the technological and military descriptions. If you love that attention to detail on weaponry, you will love this book as it describes in great details weaponry we can only dream about right now. Most of it goes right over my head, so the action and story in Invasion: California stands on its own without those details.
Not only does Heppner follow the battles on the field, but the political maneuvering behind the scenes as well. Not everyone is happy with China’s plans, although they feel forced into the Alliance. In the U.S., not everyone is on board with the plans to repel the Asian forces.
I’m enjoying this series, even though many thrillers heavy on military technology don’t always grab me. I think there’s enough balance between that, a good story, and possible events in history work to make it a good read.