The Battles of Bridget Lee ended up feeling very recycled – not much is new here as we have (at least) a very strong sci fi heroine with a tragic past in a post apocalyptic world. The entire volume is about a battle for a survivor outpost and admittedly cookie-cutter warrior aliens speaking English didn’t do much to set any new grounds. As such, this is a decent time waster but not something you’re going to remember well after a day has passed.
Combat medic Bridget Lee lives in a world invaded by aliens who enslave humans. Her enclave has survived hoping not to be found but the invaders finally locate them and begin to attack. She’s nursing emotional scars from not being able to save her husband and almost dying after freezing up when faced with his possible killer. Years later, she now has orphan kids to protect as the aliens look to capture more girls and enslave them.
First and foremost, the aliens are bad in a b-movie way. Unintentionally, unfortunately. They spout lines about humans being weak, humans will die, or if one is feisty, they will cackle that they will enslave that person instead of killing them. It got really bad and a line at the end by one dying alien “war makes monsters of us all” made me cringe. Why do aliens sound like bad B-movie villi ans?
The story is straightforward and there isn’t much mystery here other than why the aliens want the children (though they say it is for slaves). Of course, since this is a patriarchal human society where women aren’t valued as warriors or allowed to go to war (really?!?) I’m still not sure why Bridget Lee is a ‘combat’ medic. Of course, all her officers note that she’s the best combatant in the field. Too bad she’s a girl. But you’d think they’d shut her down fast if girls aren’t allowed to fight. Too much just doesn’t make sense about the set up (not the least of which is why women wouldn’t be allowed to fight when the human race is dying out).
We have a lot of tropes here – plucky kids save the day, dead spouse haunting the hero, soldiers dying gloriously in sacrifice of the enclave, eeevilll aliens…. I got bored of it quite fast and it was hard not to roll my eyes as the cliches piled in. The whole story needed a spark of originality to make me really care about Bridget.
In a cast whose names are as original as…. Waters, Lee, Hudson, it was weird to have our main character going on and on about the Mulan myth (yes, she’s probably of Chinese origin, we get it). I guess Bridget is going to have to assume the Mulan mantle if she wants to fight but I’m not sure I really want to go there if this is the level of originality displayed here. There’s nothing terrible about this first volume but there’s nothing to really recommend it, either. Perhaps something for middle grade kids? Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.