The Aggressor Series Book 1

Fiction - Military
556 Pages
Reviewed on 03/17/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Aggressor is a work of fiction in the action-adventure, military, and thriller subgenres. It is the opening work to a new series of the same name and was penned by author FX Holden. Intended for mature adult readers owing to adult references including wartime violence, this intelligent technothriller gives us front-row seats to a terrifying conflict that could spark a war larger than the world has ever seen before. With China and Taiwan at the center of a maelstrom of political and international conflict, this near-future military tale explores the consequences of conflict from multiple viewpoints, from civilians to serving personnel and decision-makers who hold the lives of countless others in their hands.

Author FX Holden always knows how to craft a thrilling read, and this new series starts off with plenty of action, adventure, and thrilling scenes where the stakes could not be higher. Beyond this, there’s also a really intelligent level of plotting that takes a thread of terrifying realities that we currently face and pulls at them to create a nightmarish vision of things that could well come to pass in the future of our planet. It’s these sparks of realism that keep the story grounded, along with the sensitive and well-considered multi-perspective portrayal. I liked that this work didn’t just contain top minds and gung-ho action heroes but really showcased the hard work, dedication, terror, and hope of ordinary people caught up in unimaginable conflict. Overall, fans of the author will surely find Aggressor to be the best novel yet, and newcomers who love action-packed military thrillers are in for a treat.

Asher Syed

FX Holden's new book series, The Aggressor Series, starts with Aggressor. The year is 2038 and China is not making a secret of plans to completely occupy Taiwan. Taiwan is politically viewed as part of the Republic of China and has long desired independence. Holden's political suspense pits several characters from countries with ideologies that would either suffer from or be unable to accept a hostile takeover of Taiwan. A private military company called Aggressor, Inc is stocking Taiwan with tactical weapons, such as missiles that can fly at 3,000 miles per hour, and highly developed aircraft, naval vessels, and offensive and defensive armaments. Over the course of a rapidly condensed period of about a week, Aggressor, Inc and their contracted military personnel, the US government, allied/Western Alliance countries, presidents, and even an empress meant to be apolitical make their moves against a new axis power structure headed by China.

Aggressor by FX Holden teases out a World War III scenario and shows us how fast a situation can escalate. China isn't going for a surprise attack and has played the long game, essentially giving the world notice that Taiwan as a non-independent independent state is over. It's happening right now in Hong Kong so it is believable. There are loads of moving parts from the inside of Aggressor, Inc as well as on the ground and in the airspace, and the governments and militaries of China and worldwide. Bunny O'Hare is the biggest Aggressor character and the one who leads the charge of bringing Taiwanese fighter pilots up to snuff in their shiny new F-22s. The Chinese political structure felt real. I could see a Chinese bureaucrat being caught in the middle of being a proud government official and citizen but responsibly wary enough to wink-wink a US government contact, or a Chinese major knowing that the losses she is being fed are drastically reduced in a misguided attempt to keep morale up. The writing is clean and tight and the pace is fast, and hopefully book two in the series, Beachhead, comes out soon. Very highly recommended.

Jamie Michele

Aggressor by FX Holden is a military thriller set in the not-too-distant future and is the first book in The Aggressor Series. A company named Aggressor, Inc is in the privatized military industry and hires private military contractors. In this novel, the threatening, combative behavior of China, which wields sovereignty over Taiwan, is ramping up to invade the small island nation. Aggressor, Inc was in Taiwan prior to a Chinese-imposed blockade restricting all things in and all things out. The Chinese are not happy that American contractors are training Taiwanese fighter pilots, and this is compounded by the United States doing the one thing they have always avoided: taking a stand in support of Taiwan. Bunny O’Hare, an Aggressor contract pilot, is tasked with the impossible and miraculously survives getting in, but half the battle is her also getting out. It doesn't help that someone on the inside might be banking on her going down in flames, quite literally.

I am not new to the work of prolific author FX Holden, having most recently read the novel DMZ, so I knew going in that Aggressor would have teeth. I just wasn't sure how sharp they would be. It turns out they are razor-sharp. Holden is one of that rare breed of writers that puts strong female protagonists in a heavily imbalanced alpha-male-dominated literary genre, and it elevates the storytelling significantly. Men are supporting cast, although there are multiple point of view characters on both sides of the Pacific, and most are given ample enough development to force readers into an understanding about what the motivators are behind their actions even if we do not agree with them. Bunny is awesome and her voice comes across as authentic, firm and capable. As a woman of East Asian heritage, I am able to fully appreciate Holden's skill in writing Asian characters that do not have ridiculous Chin-glish accents and are depicted as living, breathing people as opposed to stand-in antagonists with no purpose except to prop up American exceptionalism. As a result, I would place Holden with the best of the best military thriller writers and owe a debt of gratitude for teaching me what Telegram is so I can prepare myself for the next two decades.

Pikasho Deka

What happens if China launches a military invasion of Taiwan to take it by force? What if America is fully prepared for the invasion months before the attack? Watch this exact scenario play out in FX Holden's action-packed military thriller, Aggressor. It's the year 2038. A couple of months after China's economic blockade of Taiwan, Lieutenant Karen, aka Bunny, O'Hare of Aggressor Inc., is called upon for a top-secret mission to fly her stealth aircraft Black Widow from Guam to Taiwan and deliver carrier-killer cruise missiles. But her flight will take her through dangerous territory under Chinese radar and their new jamming technology. Meanwhile, coalition forces and China delve into a full-scale war, leading to mass casualties on both sides. With a traitor in their midst, will Bunny and her fellow fighters prevail? How will the US navigate this volatile situation?

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war makes you wonder what's going to happen if China decides to invade Taiwan in the near future. FX Holden builds on this premise and delivers an absolutely gripping modern war story full of breathtaking action and compelling political maneuvering so that you can't take your eyes off the pages. Aggressor is the third book I've read by Holden, and the most impressive aspect of his writing for me is that he gives us a believably complete view of war. The narrative gives you a glimpse at the top of the power hierarchy, showcasing people involved in making the tough decisions right down to the bottom, where it is bloody and gritty, and soldiers put their lives on the line. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am looking forward to reading the sequels.

Joshua Olokodana

Don't be the aggressor, but ensure you strike first and hard. In Aggressor by FX Holden, the tension between China and the USA is like an overstretched balloon about to pop. The bone of contention is Taiwan, the year is 2038, and China is mounting a blockade around the rebellious island. It wants Taiwan to relinquish its independence and integrate with the mainland or face war. But the United States will not be idle while China destroys a flourishing democracy. Not when Carmen Carliotti is president. She plans to call China's bluff with an audacious military strategy that relies on a certain Lt. Karen 'Bunny' O'Hare to sneak three cruise missiles past the blockade and into Taiwan. Bunny flies for the private military firm Aggressor Incorporated. In reality, she lives on her own terms. Forged by life's school of hard knocks, she is an assertive woman who relishes a challenge. No blockade can stop her. However, someone has been leaking information about Bunny's movements to the Chinese, and the odds are stacked against her. Will she survive the mission? Who will win the war?

Aggressor by FX Holden is an action-packed, high-octane blockbuster that keeps you glued to the edge of your seat from start to finish. It is a perfect feast for the senses for those who like technothrillers. You cannot read Aggressor and simply state that you enjoyed it; enjoyed is not enough to describe this masterpiece. Its powerful characterizations, great editing, and third-person non-linear narration with flashbacks will make you ask for more. Holden's impressive depiction of Bunny and her borderline personality disorder fitted well with the fight scenes and flashbacks. The combination of hair-raising action with suspense, dramatic geopolitics, and military deception fueled the plot's unpredictability. Each moment the pace slowed down, Holden was always there to crank it up again like a race car on full throttle. It also boasts its share of funny moments and easy-to-understand technospeak, courtesy of the glossary provided.