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Review | Homefront: The Voice of Freedom

Free writing

Format: Reading | Genre: Military | Publisher: Titan Books | Author: Raymond Benson and John Milius | Release date: 25/01/2011 | Price: £6.99

Jennifer Allen looks at a chilling glimpse of a plausible future (maybe) with HOMEFRONT; THE VOICE OF FREEDOM.

I’M THOROUGHLY conflicted with Homefront: The Voice of Freedom. While it tells a great story that offers some great opportunities to feel truly chilling, the writing reminds me too much of a popcorn blockbuster – explosive and brash but lacking in the finer nuances of the English language.

It’s not surprising really. Co-written by Raymond Benson and John Milius it was bound to be easy to read but not the most complex piece of writing. Benson has been responsible for numerous gaming tie in novels such as Splinter Cell and the Metal Gear Solid novelisation, while Milius co-wrote Apocalypse Now, Magnum Force and Conan the Barbarian. The cynic in me wonders if Milius wrote the gung ho parts of Apocalypse Now looking at the rest of his work. That sounds horribly snobby and it’s not meant to be by any means. Loving gung ho films as much as the next person, I can appreciate that The Voice of Freedom is a novelisation of a blockbuster of a title that while lacking in depth, makes up for it with a charm that means you keep reading. Even if you do find yourself occasionally cringing at the simplistic language, especially in terms of dialogue.

The setting is bleak indeed. America has been occupied by the Greater Korean Republic and it’s all really rather grim in the land of opportunity. The book looks at the lives of two residents from two very different backgrounds. There’s Ben Walker, a journalist who tries to escape the occupation and finds himself embroiled in the resistance efforts. The story uses part of Ben’s diary to elaborate on events that are often briefly discussed in the actual tale. Indeed, the book feels a little too rushed at times glossing over details that would have perhaps been more interesting if properly explained rather than mentioned in passing.

There’s also the perspective of Salmusa – a ruthless Korean agent who’s stayed hidden until now. His ruthlessness is quickly established when he kills his wife with barely a hint of humanity. The pacing throughout is pretty steady in this regard with action scenes appearing at a steady pace. Military acronyms are understandably used here to add an authentic touch but it’s not excessive. In fact, everything has a hint of chilling plausibility to it. Set only 16 years into the future, it feels a little too possible. The explanation given for everything is that the US has suffered an economic crisis and is languishing in a pit of despair with mass unemployment. Sound familiar? Not quite yet fortunately, but there’s certainly a hint of reality in there.

The cat and mouse type game that Salmusa and Ben play quickly draws you in, but why oh why does the dialogue have to feel so pedestrian? It feels too simplistic alongside a story that offers so much potential. It’s impossible to say how it ties into the game without having played the game but it has piqued my interest. It’s not a demanding book by any means but it does provide an interesting alternate universe – one that I enjoyed reading about.

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