My boyfriend demanded that I read this book. I am not a gamer, nor a massive sci-fi fan, and was hesitant to take it up.
But, I actually really, really enjoyed this read.
I assumed that I would be incredibly lost, not having any idea about the Halo video games. However, this book is written as a prequel to the games, and so it is purely story. We are introduced to the scientific experiment that is the Spartans right from the beginning, after a brief prologue showing them in all their fighting fury. And while the universe in which the story is set is never explicitly described to us, it is easy enough to catch on. Or, like me, it is also fine to read the story without any idea where the characters actually are in space.
The SPARTAN experiment involves training children, specially chosen for the task for their strength and intelligence, in a similar manner to the Spartan warriors of Ancient Greece. From the age of six, these children are physically and mentally trained in warfare and war tactics. It is a bit confronting, but also ridiculously intriguing. Having studied Sparta in high school, I really loved this aspect of the book. These warriors are being trained to fight for the human race, against a newly discovered Alien alliance called The Covenant.
While the Master Chief, or John, is the protagonist, for me was the character of Dr. Catherine Halsey was the best. She is the scientist behind the SPARTAN experiment. In following through with it, she must balance moral and ethical questions and she deals with those constantly throughout the book. I liked that the author kept bringing up her moral struggles, that she wasn’t a character with a one-track mind.
There are so many aspects to this story and a plethora of characters to keep track of, yet it is well worth the effort. Even the aliens, which I normally detest in a novel, are interesting – I liked that they weren’t fighting just one species, but an alliance between many.
This book was a good reminder to me that I shouldn’t always stick with what I know I like. I was entertained and am keen to read the next few. Might even have to have a go at the video game – not sure if that is reward or punishment for my poor boyfriend!