THE UNIT: SEEK AND DESTROY by Patrick Andrews
I’m a fan of The Unit. I was drawn to the show immediately because I like covert ops/military tales. If they’re done well. The television episodes are great, a good mix of military tech and human drama.
Sadly, a lot of that is missing in this first novel of a paperback series.
The biggest thing missing out of this book is any drama including the wives. They’re barely even mentioned, and even then it was in a sophomoric way, as when Bob Brown reflected on the fact that there wasn’t time for a good-bye quickie. It made it sound like he was going to work at McDonalds rather than getting dropped into a jungle in the African Congo where he had a good chance of getting killed.
I don’t know what the exact demographic is of the watchers who follow the television series, but I know I enjoy the stories about the wives. They keep everything real, and they remind us of the way of life and the people Blane and the other Unit members are fighting to keep safe. After I saw that they were MIA, I figured this book was just for the boys.
Somewhat disappointed, I settled in and turned my “boy” mindset up to full. If the book was written for the “Guns & Ammo” crowd, I could handle that. Growing up in southern Oklahoma around peace officers and military guys, I’m very familiar with that mindset.
Patrick Andrews is technically and geographically savvy. Military training and travel show in his writing. Unfortunately, those things show too much at times. The pages are liberally drenched with heavy public info spots that really get in the way of the story at times. Backgrounds of characters are dropped in bio bombs.
In fact, the Unit itself seems almost playing second-fiddle in their own story. Much of the novel revolves around the French Foreign Legion guys working for the shadow Consortium and the domestic soldiers trying to fight off the mercenaries. Jonas Blane, played so expertly well by Dennis Haysbert, is given short shrift throughout the book, and that was a shame. In one section, Blane even forgot that military vehicles don’t have keys – they just have starter buttons so they can be moved quickly and efficiently.
Bob Brown got some exposure at the beginning, and a little at the end, but he promptly vanished in the middle as well. Lance Matoskah got a lot of backstory about his Indian heritage and beliefs, then just faded.
One of the main kinks facing the Unit was the friction between the military and the CIA. That subplot is played up for a while, pushed toward what seems like will be a head, then dealt with almost as an afterthought at the end.
The action scenes often made me feel like I was in the middle of a role playing game. The sequence of action and stats rolled continuously. I could have drawn the game maps, complete with target areas and troop movements. But I couldn’t have told you how any of our heroes were feeling about facing such odds. The emotional link that’s so critical in the show’s success is missing for the most part.
The book cover is absolutely beautiful, and the plot had some great potential. Hopefully the second book in the series will nail what makes The Unit so cool.