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Orphan's Destiny    by Robert Buettner order for
Orphan's Destiny
by Robert Buettner
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Young Jason Wander is one of an army of orphans who volunteered for a desperate voyage to Ganymede, the site from which unknown alien assailants had launched a series of murderous attacks on earth. (This story was told in Orphanage.) Jason has achieved rapid advancement, due to the horrendous losses suffered by earth's forces. Their transport, the United Nations starship Hope, launched a suicide run at the enemy, so the survivors are marooned until rescue can arrive.

Once back on earth, Jason and the other veterans of Ganymede are lionized by a grateful public. People are looking forward to rebuilding after the Slug war that nearly destroyed the planet, and diverting resources from defence to that end. Jason, hailed as a hero, is recruited for PR work. No one wants to know about the crippled and dead; still less do they want any hint that the Slug problem has not been resolved. Jason and other voices in the wilderness try to warn that the invaders were not native to the solar system, and so their victory on Ganymede is not definitive. Their warnings fall on deaf ears.

Much to his own dismay, Jason finds that his fears are only too valid. An armada of giant warships is detected on its way to earth. With defences and military resources depleted, Jason and a few stalwarts once again volunteer for a suicide mission. Their tiny force is vastly outnumbered and outgunned, but the alternative is to lie down and die without a fight.

Buettner pens an exciting and suspenseful tale. If the events in the novel are fictional, nonetheless the protagonist's stubborn courage and refusal to give up without a struggle is a tribute to the real-life soldiers and rescue personnel who have been so severely tested in recent real-world crises. The author's thoughtful comments on the source of his titles are also worth reading, as are the quotations with which he opens his novels. I did find the outcome rather a large swallow as the protagonists are at so massive a disadvantage compared to the enemy. However, the action moves at a fast clip that draws the reader along.

In short, Orphan's Destiny is a satisfying sequel to Orphanage, and Buettner shows again that he can create well-defined characters as well as test them in harrowing situations. I look forward to the continuing saga of Jason's adventures.

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