Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade... is an important, critical look at the role of how war bends and warps modern society. It...has the potential to become the next great Military SF classic ... The Light Brigade caused an immediate, visceral reaction in me as a reader. It’s like a punch in the gut from the first page. Hurley hounds the reader with a relentless pace, introducing them to a bevy of characters and never slowing down. It’s brutal from its first pages, and never lets up. As the pages turn, ideas pile up, and Dietz forms genuine relationships with her fellow soldiers, and Hurley does a beautiful job exploring how they deal with death, loss, risk, and release. Her prose is punchy, and the dialogue sharp and urgent, providing a feeling of really being down there in the trenches with the soldiers ... Never does [the book] trade its thematic explorations for character development or vice versa—they are one and the same ... The Light Brigade is a standout novel in Kameron Hurley’s already impressive career. It’ll get your pulse pounding, your blood boiling, and your heart aching. It’ll make you angry, scared, and, at the most unexpected moments, hopeful. The history of Military SF novels is long and storied, but Hurley’s work can stand up with the best of them.
The Light Brigade is passionately brutal, fierce and furious in voice and pace. Everything’s appropriately grueling, from Dietz’s memories of life before she joined her corporation to her fractured experiences of battle. It’s a particularly cinematic experience of war, Full Metal Jacket meets Edge of Tomorrow close up in the muck and blood and horror. It’s genuinely moving, too: all these heartbreaking young people caught up in a sick lie that everyone half-knows but can’t look at directly. It was difficult at times to situate myself in the timeline and significance of Dietz’s drops, especially early on when the only distinctions in the exhausting homogeneity of warfare are the casts of characters making up different platoons. But I’m hard pressed to consider that a flaw instead of a strength, especially when grim idealism is so much a part of Hurley’s brand. And this is, at its core, an idealistic book, hope lurking somewhere beneath the hurt.
Mixing a gritty and muscular writing style with an intricate and time-hopping plot with echoes of Philip K. Dick’s Now Wait for Last Year, The Light Brigade is an enthralling portrait of a devastated near future. Highly recommended for not only sf fans but anyone interested in a thrilling and troubling vision of the future.