Return to Duty

Fiction - Science Fiction
392 Pages
Reviewed on 11/19/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite

Ryker Vaughn is part of an explosives detection team. During one of their campaigns, his team came across an unusual device with Ryker’s name on it. When the team tries to transport it back to base, it explodes, killing all his team members except him and leaving him a double amputee with a sense of guilt. On the other side of the world, the discovery of a similar device and an aggressively worded message from an extraterrestrial source puts world leaders on edge and people on high alert. The countdown is on as it looks like war is almost a certainty. The only person capable of stopping it is Ryker. Now he must face his demons to save the planet in Dustin Williams’s Return To Duty.

State-of-the-art technology and riveting storytelling come together explosively in Dustin Williams’s Return To Duty. The storyline has an injured war veteran take on extraterrestrial aggressors in a winner-takes-all battle. Williams focuses this gripping tale on the one resource the planet has in abundance and crafts an elaborate origin story around it with such dexterity that it is completely believable. The fighting scenes where Maazi’s forces take on the world’s might are described in such intricate detail that they are as immersive as they are suspense-filled. Williams’s concept of spacecraft that utilize lesser-known microorganisms abundant within our ecosystem sets the bar very high in science fiction. The best part of Return To Duty is the way Williams humanizes the principal character with bouts of self-doubt and wanting to emulate his father, pushing the narrative of a less-than-perfect hero. Williams deserves plaudits for an excellently crafted science-fiction masterpiece.

K.C. Finn

Return to Duty is a work of fiction penned by author Dustin Williams in the science fiction, cyberpunk, and action-adventure subgenres. It is suitable for the general adult reading audience. We follow the story of Captain Ryker Vaughn, who, after surviving a devastating attack that left him a double amputee, is equipped with cutting-edge bionic technology called Ozzies. Despite the potential to regain mobility, Ryker, driven by the memory of his fallen team, initially rejects the idea. However, when an unprecedented threat endangers Earth and kidnaps his brother, Ryker faces a crucial decision — to remain in his self-imposed immobility or embrace the power of his bionics and return to duty.

Author Dustin Williams has crafted a truly compelling tale combining elements of military drama, futuristic technology, and the human struggle for resilience. Williams crafts a narrative that delves into the psychological impact of trauma and the internal conflicts faced by a protagonist torn between honoring the past and facing the challenges of the present. The exploration of advanced bionic technology adds a fascinating cyberpunk layer to the story, raising questions about the ethical implications of such enhancements in an intelligent and exciting way. The character development, particularly Ryker's internal struggles, is nuanced and layered with compelling dialogue and some great attention to detail in the emotional buildup of the narrative. Williams successfully blends action with emotion, making the reader not only root for Ryker's physical triumphs but also empathize with his psychological battles, which allows the plot's intensity to build as Ryker confronts his personal demons and the looming extraterrestrial threat. Overall, Return to Duty stands out as a gripping journey of redemption, resilience, and the heroism of the human spirit that I would not hesitate to recommend.

Romuald Dzemo

Dustin Williams’ Return to Duty is a mesmerizing science fiction novel that intricately weaves a tale of loss, survival, and the quest to save the earth with strong hints of dystopia. Captain Ryker Vaughn grapples with the aftermath of a devastating event, being the lone survivor of his team and left maimed. The plot intricately unravels a gripping post-apocalyptic world, where cutting-edge technology meets the internal turmoil of a complex and conflicted protagonist. Williams crafts a fluid and immersive narrative that draws readers into Ryker’s struggles. Ryker’s resolute refusal to walk again, out of respect for his fallen comrades, is a strong reflection of his honor and loyalty. His complex personality and internal conflicts are compellingly portrayed, tugging at the reader's emotions as he battles with his own principles and the new realities. The new technology that enables him to walk imbues him with new qualities and this might be the only thing he needs to save his world when a new, powerful thread surfaces.

The post-apocalyptic world is finely drawn, vividly depicting the desolation and dangers that Ryker navigates. The technology that becomes a lifeline for him is expertly woven into the plot, offering a touch of realism and futuristic intrigue. The plot not only hinges on the internal conflicts of the protagonist but also introduces a new threat that propels Ryker back into action. The emergence of an otherworldly force threatening Earth forces Ryker to reassess his principles, embrace his new capabilities, and accept the use of the Ozzies, the new technology that gives him speed, leading to an engrossing and action-packed ride. Return to Duty stands out not only for its thrilling and fully-drawn post-apocalyptic world but also for its richly developed protagonist. Dustin Williams’ writing skillfully melds an emotionally charged narrative, a vividly painted world, and an engaging, multi-layered character, making this sci-fi novel a compelling and enthralling read for fans of the genre.