What I would have liked to know before I bought this book. (no spoilers)
1. What type of book is it: action, drama, etc? This book is a military sci-fi action book. Part of the book focuses on establishing a story path. The hand of the author is lightly present, but still felt.
2. What is the story about, in general? The story is about the 2nd expedition of the Ark Royal fleet. It embraces multiple topics of contention from character family relationships, and the age old problems of royalty within the roles of a nation, to military cultural differences between allied powers.
3. What/Who is the target audience? I believe the target audience is young adult and adult males. One main character is deliberately targeting young adults. Another main character targets older adult males.
4. Is there character development? Yes and no. Only two characters shoulder the burden of evolving character development. The rest have fairly established their resolutions and don't provide significant emotional and drama conflict. One of the characters is being introduced for further story in the next book, and has slightly unsympathetic troubles. I like the duality of inexperienced and seriousness this character portrays. The other is our favorite CAG. I find his problems very realistic if a bit over-pronounced to ensure reader attention. Most young adults will not be able to empathize with his problems, but older readers might.
5. Are the characters likable? I found the characters no more likable or unlikeable than the previous books. The new characters in this volume are not rounded or formed enough to gain a defining mold for their personality. This is done deliberately as a stepping stone for further story in the next book. Because of this, I find those characters incomplete, though realistic in personality troubles.
6. Does the story keep its pacing? For the most part, it does. I had to browse more in this volume, than the previous one, because of certain clichés that felt `introduced' to the story instead of `developed' with the story. Nevertheless, the book is entertaining. The enemy remains smart and adaptable, and the tether for humanity's survival keeps getting artistically shorter.
7. Do you have to suspend disbelief? For the most part, no. Only one character strained my disbelief and it was a clear `hand of the author' moment where a certain outcome is desired no matter how improbable it is.
8. Is the book worth the asking price? Oh yes, $4 is still a good price.
In conclusion: A solid sequel to Ark Royal. The character development, of most of the cast, is stunted in preference for spending page time on the evolution of a new character and the CAG. Most of the characters simply have roles that expand, but their evolution does not deviate from those roles. The book suffers from 'mid series' issues of teasing and incompleteness. A few minor cliches, and two related improbable events, strained my disbelief and indifference, a tad. The events are linked to one character and are obvious directional 'pushes' by the author that are aimed towards a following volume. The book is still quite entertaining and the price remains acceptable.