The year is 2027. Her infrastructure shattered and military in disarray, America has fallen to a savage occupation by the nuclear armed Greater Korean Republic. Abandoned by her former allies, the United States is a bleak landscape of walled towns and abandoned suburbs. This is a police state where high school stadiums have become detention centres, and shopping malls shelter armoured attack vehicles.
Sounds rough, right?
Written by the same writing team who wrote the upcoming Homefront game’s story and published by Titan Books, the Voice of Freedom follows Ben Walker, a journalist whose attempts to escape the Korean occupation of his home town and finds himself at the centre of the American Resistance attempts. With John Milius on board (co-writer of films such as Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn) you’d expect an exciting, intriguing and perfectly structured novel, one of those books that is almost impossible to put down and makes you think about it even when you’re not reading it. And you know what? That’s exactly what we’ve got.
A Korean Republic having the might and power to invade a struggling, run down America doesn’t seem like anything that could ever happen in our lifetime. But despite Homefront being set just 16 years in the future everything about this storyline is believable. A series of events starting in the present day all seem perfectly feasible, and all add up to the situation we find ourselves in from the start of the book: a small American resistance cell defending a town against a Korean onslaught. During this fight, Walker struggles to set up some radio equipment with a woman named Kelsie Wilcox to make a radio broadcast as the Voice of Freedom amongst the carnage. It all seems a bit random, but when the date jumps back 15 months in the next chapter to a time before a huge EMP strike has signalled the start of the invasion, it’s clear this is merely an indication of what’s to come. However from slight confusion immediately breeds immense intrigue, and the hook in the storyline has firmly set in. From this point onwards, the story builds up to the conflict outlined at the beginning and then moves past it to a finale that makes it physically impossible to stop reading until the end.
There are some key moments throughout the novel, when several storylines click together and give you those “light bulb” moments. Without going into detail (the story is too good for me to ruin) Walker’s arrival at Las Vegas is one of the major turning points of the invasion, and the events we read about at the beginning start to fall into place. On top of that, the narrative switches seamlessly between the story of Walker’s life, sections from his journal and a parallel story following Salmusa, the Korean General in charge of operations in the States. Seeing the involvements of the two main characters merging together as the novel progresses, as well as first hand entries from the journal, gives a much wider view of the conflict despite the focus mainly being on the two main characters. It works beautifully – you see the success of one man causing grief for the other, and despite the power of the Koreans they don’t always have the upper hand, to the point that up until the final page you have no idea who will eventually come out on top.
It remains to be seen how the Voice of Freedom will tie in with the actual Homefront game. It’s clear that the book follows the game’s world very closely and it opens up some fantastic opportunities to give players who have read the novel to spot small references that other gamers will miss. Will the Voice of Freedom broadcasts echo out of repaired radios as you dodge the enemy? Will resistance cell members hum songs by the Beatles as they go about their operations? We’ll find out soon enough when Homefront is released.
But in the meantime anyone who is looking forward to Homefront, or indeed anyone who would enjoy reading about a fight for survival in a perfectly plausible futuristic war, should be looking for a copy of the Voice of Freedom. Any book that has you so engrossed that you think about it during your normal day to day life, and makes you start to believe that the events unfolding could actually happen one day, deserves a place in your collection whether you’re a gamer or not.
Thanks to Titan Books for sending us a copy to review