Germline by T.C. McCarthy – Advanced Review [Bane of Kings]


Bane of Kings reviews TC McCarthy’s Germline, published by Orbit and the first in the Subterrene War novels.

“This is going to be big.” ~The Founding Fields

Ever since the release of Dan Abnett’s Embedded, I’ve been eager to discover more novels set in the ‘journalism in military sci-fi’ genre, which is why I leapt at the chance to read and review Germline, the first novel by T.C. McCarthy, which is from Orbit Publishers (Again, like Leviathan Wakes, I received this novel from Little Brown Publishers, who have Orbit as an Imprint).

I don’t know about you, but I seem to be reading a lot of series openers recently. Leviathan Wakes was one, Hard Spell and Defenders of Ulthuan others. And, judging by the cover, Germline is the first instalment in the Subterrene War series, set sometime in the future, where Russia are at war with America over rich mineral deposits discovered in Kazakhstan.


Right from the start, McCarthy lets us know that nobody is safe, stepping up the threat as you quickly realise that not everybody’s going to make it out of this gripping debut alive. The novel is told entirely in first person, from the point of view of the Journalist Oscar “Scout” Wendell, who is ‘hooked on a dangerous cocktail of drugs and adrenaline’, even when he finds himself embedded within a unit of Marines. The stakes increase even more when we learn that Scout has fallen for Sophie, a super-human, genetically engineered soldier (called genetics). However, there’s just one problem with these genetics, for they deteriorate over time.

At no point in this novel does the relationship between these two main protanagists feel forced, or overemotional, which is a good thing, and helps the romance seem more realistic, even if it is war.

As it is told in first person right the way through, Germline gifts McCarthy with the ability to fix his readers emotions to one thing or the other, which is a thing that tends to happen in all first person books. Hard Spell, for example – we are led to believe that Vampires and the creatures of the night – are the enemy, and in The Angel Experiment by James Patterson, we are led to believe that the scientists are the enemy, for example. (I haven’t reviewed TAE on this blog, in case you’re wondering; it’s a young adult book. Look it up if you want). With the case of Germline however, we understand all of Oscar’s many flaws, and learn whatever he is thinking wherever he is.

Although Wendell is not exactly a good reporter, he is the first to be sent out to war, and attached to a Battalion of Marines, fighting the Russians (as mentioned before, for Kazakhstan), where he meets the likeable Marine Ox, and later on is introduced to such personalities as a teenager in the war, and a Brit, who he gets to know (the reader also does, as well), over the course of the three-hundred odd pages novel.

And a good thing is, Germline lacks any clichés, which is good if you’re getting bored of the stereotypical military sci-fi fictions out there.

Oscar’s character is perhaps unique in this genre. Starting off as inexperienced and naive, leaping at any opportunities to come his way, often without realising what consequences they will bring for him, especially in the case of a Pulitzer being one of the examples. (If you’re confused by the term of Pulitzer, Germline goes into more detail on it), he soon grows from a civilian rookie to a war veteran.

If there’s one thing that’s going to happen to Germline, it’s going to be a hit. I’m telling you, any fans of military sci-fi will find this book enjoyable, and I can defiantly see myself picking up Exogene, the next part in the Subterrene war series, upon its release (if not before), even though it doesn’t feature “Scout” as a main character.

Right, that’s all for now, and don’t expect any reviews from me for the next couple of weeks (Apart from maybe The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes), due to the fact that I’m on holiday with no Internet Access.

Rating: 4.75/5

More Subterrene War: Germline, Exogene (Coming Soon), Chimera (Coming Soon)

David Ploss

I’m a bit of an awesome person. :) I’m a semi-famous 40k Intellect and the Business Manager of Chique Geek Entertainment, LLC. I’m a book reviewer and the owner of Beware my wonky-ness…


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