Review: Hell Squad Survivors by Anna Hackett

Review: Hell Squad Survivors by Anna HackettHell Squad: Survivors (Hell Squad #19) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: ebook
Genres: dystopian, science fiction romance
Series: Hell Squad #19
Pages: 222
Published by Anna Hackett on February 11th, 2010
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

In the aftermath of a deadly alien invasion, a band of survivors fights on…

Survivors contains three action-packed novellas in the Hell Squad series.

Includes:

Nate – Long before the aliens invaded, former Marine Nate Caldwell came home a broken man. Going off-grid in a cabin he inherited in Australia’s Blue Mountains, he survived the invasion with only his dog Blue for company. For two years, he’s avoided the aliens and any survivors – he’s done his fighting and can’t go into battle again. But when a young woman crashes into his lonely existence, with the aliens hot on her heels, she changes everything…

Dak – Captain Dak Vaughn only has room for his job as head of security for Groom Lake Base. His focus has to be on keeping all the survivors alive, and not on the tough, attractive new recruit who gets under his skin. But when a dangerous mission requires them to go deep into alien territory, Dak finds himself up close and personal with a woman who is pure temptation.

Alexander – Marine engineer turned base leader, Alexander Erickson, leads a tiny base of survivors in the snowy climes of Norway. Balancing the needs and safety of his group keeps him busy, and he longs for someone to share the load, someone to call his own. The one independent woman he wants refuses to see him as anything more than a leader and a younger man. But when mysterious alien activity encroaches on their safety, they will join forces to investigate and Alexander might finally have his chance.

My Review:

Survivors is, OMG thank you Anna so much, the next-to-last book in the Hell Squad series, which began all the way back with Marcus back in 2015. I think more real world time has elapsed since that first book than has world time within the series.

Although the world of Hell Squad has certainly had one hell of a worse time than the real world has, in spite of everything awful that has happened since 2015.

Why? Because we haven’t been invaded by rapacious alien insectoids intent on stripping the Earth of its resources and converting the entire population, both human and animal, into more of their kind.

The Gizzida are basically space locusts with much too high an IQ. They are unfortunately way too good at conquering and consuming their way across the galaxy. And now they’re here.

The Hell Squad series has been a race against time from the very beginning. The Gizzida plan to strip the planet and move on, leaving nothing behind them. The remaining human population has been waging a constant guerrilla war to slow the aliens down long enough to either kill them all, shove them back into space, or preferably both.

That race is now down to the wire, as the Gizzida are building three superbombs filled with their DNA. They plan to deploy those bombs in a coordinated strike, blanketing Earth in their genetic material and converting the remaining population in one exceedingly fell swoop.

The story in Survivors is all about the human survivors plan to thwart them.

But those bombs are distributed around the globe, and so are the novellas in this collection, giving readers a chance to finally see some of the action happening in the human enclaves outside of Australia where the series so far has been set.

We do start “down under” with the kind of person we know must have existed but haven’t seen much of. Most of the survivors have banded together in The Enclave, under the protection of as many of the United Coalition Armed Forces as could make their way to the base. But some lone wolves would have managed to survive in remote locations far away from either the aliens or the protective squads.

Nate’s story is that of one of those isolated survivors, a man who left his war behind before the aliens invaded, and stayed on his own because he felt too damaged to return to any fight. His peace is invaded by a courageous woman escaping from an alien experimentation lab with the Gizzida hot on her heels. But Ali has seen one of those terrible bombs, and its location has to reach The Enclave at any cost.

Speculation has placed the second bomb in North America, and it’s up to the security forces at Groom Lake (that’s Area 51) to locate its hiding place. Meanwhile, the third bomb is hidden by the snow and ice of Norway, and it’s the job of the their base leader to dig up its location so the humans can enact their plans before the Gizzida can complete theirs.

Escape Rating A-: I liked Survivors a lot, more than many of the recent entries in the series, for a whole bunch of reasons.

One reason is that we got to see some things we haven’t seen before. While both Groom Lake and Setermoen Base have been mentioned before in the series, we hadn’t had a chance to go there until now.

Second, I loved that the romances were different from each other, and that two of them were different from the usual pattern in this series. Nate, as mentioned above, is a lone wolf survivor. While he’s very much the kind of damaged, scarred soldier as the men who make up the squads, the shattering of his fragile peace by Ari allows him to reconnect with the rest of humanity.

Liv, in the third story, is a solitary who visits the Setermoen Base for supplies but prefers to live on her own. So not as lone wolf as Nate but also not as “part of the tribe” as the protagonists of the other story. I liked that the leader of her base was an engineer, not a soldier, and that he had managed to save most of his extended family, so he has connections to parents and siblings that most people in the other bases no longer have. And I always love an older women/younger man romance when it is done well, and this one is.

Also, both Nate and Liv have marvelous canine companion animals.

While Dak and Naomi’s romance in the Groom Lake story did follow a similar pattern to many of the romances in this series, their high-stakes, high-wire exploration of and escape from Hoover Dam was terrific.

And in all three cases, the stories moved the overall series plot forward by leaps and bounds. They’ve found all the bombs. They have allies to work with, and time to finalize their plans and kick the Gizzida off Earth once and for all.

That’s a story I’ve been waiting for since 2015, and it’s finally here. The next book in the series, Tane’s story, will be the last. The human survivors will get to celebrate their very own Independence Day this summer. And I can’t wait.

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