This crisply written and well-paced book reads like an all-caps warning for a world shackled to the machines we carry in our pockets and place on our laps, while only vaguely understanding how the information stored in and shared by those devices can be exploited ... it’s as if Ackerman and Stavridis want to grab us by our lapels, give us a slap or two, and scream: Pay attention! ... at a time when strident nationalism has become one of the defining characteristics of our age, Ackerman and Stavridis offer subtle commentary about the interconnectedness of the world.
Suffice it to say that there is conflict and catastrophe on a large scale, and it unfolds, as major conflicts tend to, with surprising twists and turns ... The strengths of the novel are anything but incidental to the background of one of its authors, Adm. Stavridis, a former destroyer and carrier strike group commander who retired from the Navy in 2013 as NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He and Mr. Ackerman have written what in many ways is a traditional potboiler, one that proceeds with the swiftness and lack of deep character development that marks much airport fiction. But Adm. Stavridis not only understands how naval fleets work; he has clearly given a great deal of thought to America’s biggest strategic risks, and at the top of the list is war with China, which, as this book seems designed to point out, could occur quite by accident and at almost any time.
... a speculative thriller that seems all too plausible ... With such impressive credentials, the question becomes whether or not Ackerman and Admiral Stavridis can write a political thriller that not only matches their expertise but also entertains lay readers who are simply looking for a good story. The answer? Yes, they certainly can ... Lin Bao and Farshad are in fact excellent characters, well drawn, realistic, and remarkably engaging. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, after all, since Ackerman’s earlier novels drew effusive praise for his ability to present convincing and credible points of view from other cultures...Furthermore, despite the frantic and truly frightening nature of the story being told, the prose is calm and measured, almost elegant at times ... a haunting, disturbing cautionary tale about what can easily happen if international conflict is allowed to reach the boiling point. Make sure to add it to your spring reading list.
... chilling yet compulsively readable ... the action in this near-future world is grounded in contemporary events ... The story focuses not only on the decision-makers, but also on the soldiers asked to carry out each mission, humanizing the horrors of war. Ackerman and Stavridis have created a brilliantly executed geopolitical tale that is impossible to put down and that serves as a dire, all-too-plausible warning that recent events could have catastrophic consequences.
You can’t fault the book too much on a strategic level. The war centers just where you think it might ... The novel starts out gratifyingly...However, from that point on, the story of the conflict becomes subsumed into two parallel subtexts ... It’s because of the concern about the fragility of the command-and-control technology that 2034 may be labeled a 'technothriller,' but that’s misleading. The attraction of the technothriller is that readers walk away feeling as though they have learned something...Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis don’t take the time to explain why the Chinese are able to black out naval communications or how it’s done ... It is always pointless --- and borderline ungrateful --- to wish that a book would be bigger than it is, to have a wider scope, to tell a different story. 2034 accomplishes what it seeks out to do. It sets up a serious strategic problem, explores how both sides attempt to resolve the conflict, raises important issues about how the battle could be fought and what the results could be, and tells its story from a high-level perspective. However, that perspective is as remote and bloodless as Lee on his horse at Gettysburg. The real action, the life-and-death struggle, is out there at the point of the spear. 2034 doesn’t find its way there.
This novel starts out like a Tom Clancy thriller, but whether Wedge Mitchell is more like Jack Ryan or Dr. Strangelove is for the reader to decide ... Unlike with the never-ending Clancy series, it’s hard to imagine a sequel to this dark warning about human folly and miscalculation ... This compelling thriller should be required reading for our national leaders and translated into Mandarin.
The authors do a fine job depicting the human cost of geopolitical conflict, though they avoid the hardware emphasis of most military thrillers, and some of the potentially more exciting scenarios occur offstage. Those seeking a realistic look at how a future world war might play out will be rewarded.