The Commander Review

The Commander Review | Kevin Groh

Welcome to 2021! I’m kicking off the year with a book review. More specifically, I’m sharing my review on The Commander by Kevin Groh.

Publisher: Self-published | Date: 2021 | Genre: Science fiction

Plot: The young privileged son Carter Sanders, who grew up on the human colony Utopia Beta, is drafted for military service. Together with new comrades, he learns to be a soldier in the following two years.
In the military base Osilon he learns close combat, the handling of weapons, new technologies and strategic basics.

Utopia is a militarily organized and corporate planet at war with another species. Between huge skyscrapers, muddy mines and the slums of the lower cities, the reality is completely different from what Carter knows.

During his training, he has to deal with hostilities, friendship, and love and learns more about himself. Mean instructors, difficult lessons, dangerous training missions, and an unexpected battle turn the thoughtful young man into a deadly fighter whose name becomes a legend even before his training ends.

I received The Commander from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Commander Review

The Commander Review

The Commander is the first in a series by Kevin Groh. Originally written in German, the books have recently been translated, which is how I was able to request an English version from Netgalley. The book is due out tomorrow.

I thought the premise sounded great. I love books where a naïve individual must find themselves, and discover what they are truly capable of while being thrown into impossible situations. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver.

Carter is the son of a wealthy and influential man. But even that power doesn’t stop him from being conscripted. Facing hostilities from his team-mates, Carter tries to fit in.

He’s a likeable enough character, but there’s no depth to him. Carter doesn’t struggle with anything: he comes from a wealthy background and picks up the skills and tasks assigned to them by the military with ease. He grows, but you don’t see that development and you certainly don’t go on the journey with him. He was flat, two-dimensional and annoying, which isn’t what you want for your main character.

The secondary characters fell just as short. Kelly is portrayed purely through the masculine gaze, falling apart when things get difficult and only appreciated for her beauty. Likewise, Leena is objectified by another recruit, and her hysterical nature undermines what could have been a strong character. The depiction of the female characters was particularly disappointing, although none of the men were all that, either.

“Murphy’s Laws four and five,” she hollered. “Important things are always simple! Simple things are always hard!”

The Commander by Kevin Groh

The plot was all over the place. There are multiple time jumps throughout the book. These work – you couldn’t follow three years of training – but it did mean characters could suddenly do tasks they’d previously struggled with, and you missed the development.

But it’s not the time jumps that threw me off. In the space of three chapters, Carter experiences a massive attack, is introduced to a potential villain who is being kept hush-hush, and discovers his father is hiding something. These literally take place back-to-back, within a space of a few days, but then are never mentioned again. Not even a hint about why there is a cover up on this bad guy. I’m assuming it’s setting up future books, but it threw me off.

There were also moments during their training where I had no clue what was going on. A few of the exercises left me completely baffled.

When it came to the pinnacle of the story – which, again, we seemed to have arrived at very suddenly – there was no tension. There was a threat, but I didn’t care. By this point, you know Carter can excel at anything he tries; therefore, he’ll deal with the threat and be home and dry before anyone else reacts. He’s called out on his arrogance, but this far through the book, there’s no way of redeeming it.

It’s a shame this book disappointed me. But with annoying main characters and a confusing plot, it just didn’t work. Not what I wanted for a first review of the year, but there we go.

Are you into futuristic science fiction novels? Anything you’d recommend?

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17 thoughts on “The Commander Review | Kevin Groh

  1. It’s a shame to hear that the book disappointed you because for the most part this sounded like a book I might have really enjoyed! X


  2. Its such a shame that you felt this book just didn’t deliver because the blurb sounds interesting. There is nothing worse that when a book flicks back and forth and gets confusing. Its usually when I end up giving up with it. You’ve written a great, honest review.


  3. I’m sorry this book didn’t work out for you. It’s a shame, the cover looks so COOL *_*
    It sounds interesting enough, though I’m not one for plots jumping around myself. Nicely done review!


  4. I certainly love Science Fiction and the cover of this looks so intriguing but I’m sorry to hear that it wasn’t for you. I think I would have felt the same as I enjoy reading because of the characters so don’t get along at all when they are written flat or inconsistent.


    • You know when you can see that the potential is there, but it just doesn’t deliver? That’s what this did for me. Maybe it was something in the translation, who knows? Thanks for the comment!


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