- Bestselling Author Brandon Hale is my friend. I’ve known him since high school, over 20 years ago. We’ve had two actual conversations. Once, he even let me shake his hand, briefly.
- He’s also a member of the QRE staff. In fact, he’s the co-founder, after Garv.
So, you know, reviewing his books is gonna seem like I’m just trying to pimp his stuff to you. But nothing could be further from the truth.
This truth is, the Day Soldiers books are pretty damn good. I’ve read them all and I enjoyed them immensely. I’d recommend them to anyone, even if I didn’t know Bestselling Author Brandon Hale (who kind of remembers me at QRE meetings, although he often calls me “Bill”).
Now, I’m gonna be expressing my opinions here, not those of Bestselling Author Brandon Hale or anyone else. In our group, he’s the nice one, meaning that he often apologizes after poking Cadderly with a sharp stick. So let’s get started.
You ever notice how, over the last several years, monsters stopped being, well, monstrous? For example, it seems like vampires first became lonely antiheroes burdened by their curse, then they turned into sparkly emo dudes with great hair? And werewolves just turned into shirtless Native Americans?
I think we all know what I’m talking about.
Well, ‘Day Soldiers‘ isn’t like that.
It’s a story set a few years in the future. The existence of vampires and werewolves has become known to mankind. And the vampires and werewolves are not taking it well. Specifically, they’ve declared war on humanity.
And they’re winning.
And these aren’t your mopey, whiny little teen heartthrobs we see in today’s books and movies. These vampires are vicious, with absolutely no regrets. They’re inhuman monsters, who enjoy killing people.
The werewolves are also pretty darn beastly. They can change instantly, at will, and they’re ferocious, nearly unstoppable creatures who have allied themselves with the vampires in the battle to take the world sway from humans.
Enter Lily Baxter, the main character, the young lady these books are all about. She grew up in a world at war and she is in awe of the Day Soldiers, the elite commandos trained to do battle with the forces of darkness.
Lily leaves behind a small-town Virginia life after a great tragedy and is shaped by events into a tough and capable warrior. She makes great friends and even greater enemies and, all the while, the masterminds of the vampire and werewolf armies are embroiled in a power struggle that will determine the course of the war – and the world.
The great thing about these books is that the characters are utterly believable. The dialogue rings true. The plot seems like a logical progression, even as the stakes (heh) get higher with each novel. And they do get higher!
The villains are awesome, and not in the way that word is overused nowadays, but in the literal sense of awe-inspiring. The stories, while getting bigger and more elaborate, remain grounded in a very convincing reality, no matter how fantastic the plot twists get.
The first novel, ‘Day Soldiers‘, sets the stage for the events to come. We get to know the characters and the world they live in, we understand the nature of the war and, just when we get comfortable, Hale jerks the rug out from under us and starts wreaking havoc. Characters die you don’t expect to see killed, characters live you expect to see die. The destruction gets bigger and bigger, while it becomes hard to know who is on what side after awhile.
In the second installment, ‘Purging Fires‘, mankind is fighting a losing battle. And a new villain arises, a mad monster who threatens humans, vampires and werewolves. I won’t give away the ending, but I remember saying to myself, “I know there’s a Part Three coming, but I can’t imagine how he’ll top THIS.”
Book three, ‘Topia‘ brings the saga to a conclusion as an all-out final battle rages for what’s left of the United States, with the rest of the world already fallen to darkness. It’s an epic battle, with the introduction of an entirely new supernatural being who could tip the scales in this, humanity’s last stand.
What I’m saying is, the world of Day Soldiers is a must for anyone who enjoys monsters. Bestselling Author Brandon Hale tosses in a few amusing in-jokes and cameos, while never making his characters into caricatures or parodies. And the B-Team, the main characters of the series, are so real that it’s hard to believe they’re just words on a page.
The best thing is, these books deliver. While they have some chilling scenes and intense action, they are perfectly acceptable reading for young adults. The language, while realistic, is not vulgar, with very few expletives. If these were movies, they’d probably be PG-13 rather than R. And Brandon has clearly considered the hows and whys of his monsters, making vampires and werewolves that somehow seem like what they would be like if they actually existed.
So if you like a good book, here are three of them. You can get them for your reader or in paperback. Trust me, they’re well worth your time.
I’d tell Brandon this, if he’d give me his e-mail address or take my friend requests. Maybe someday…
All three books – Day Soldiers, Purging Fires, and Topia – are available at Amazon.com, both in e-reader versions and paperback. There’s even a special edition that has all three books in one. And now, there’s even an addendum to the Day Soldiers trilogy – The Sneaker’s Handbook. You can find a listing of all of Brandon Hale’s available books here on Amazon.com.