China moves to take over Pagasa Island in the South China Sea, putting it on a collision course with the USA that very quickly takes the region to the brink of total war. Set in an all-too-possible future, PAGASA is a whirlwind of a novel that follows the lives of ordinary men and women facing extraordinary peril, on all sides of the conflict.
Pagasa: This is the Future of War, follows ordinary men and women facing extraordinary peril, on all sides of the conflict.
On Pagasa, Philippine Seabee Captain, Heraldo Bezerra, and his small force of combat engineers come under attack from Chinese Coast Guard frigates and commandos of the elite Jiaolong special forces.
In Hong Kong, pilot Karen 'Bunny' O'Hare signs on to act as an aerial bodyguard for US flagged merchant marine vessel, the White Star Orion, which is shipping vital materials to PAGASA to help the Philippine Government fortify the island.
In the Celebes Sea east of the Philippines, Captain of the Constellation class frigate, USS Congress, races to rendezvous with the White Star convoy, knowing he is sailing his ship into the eye of an approaching storm.
At Batu Bay in Brunei, maritime militia leader Abdul Ibrahim, receives a visit from a Chinese client bearing heavy calibre gifts and a simple request: sink the Orion.
And high in the skies over PAGASA, China Southern Command Special Aircraft Squadron leader, Li Chen, takes China's untried Zhi Shen J-16 fighter into combat with US stealth drones, to fight for the control of the seas first sailed by her ancestors during the Han dynasty in 210 BC.
Densely packed with the innovative tech and high-stakes cliffhangers the genre demands,Pagasa approaches its international conflict from every possible side, with a large ensemble ranging from U.S. Navy officers and Chinese military to two young children who must quickly adapt when their island becomes a military flashpoint. That interest in the humanity of all parties sets Holdens work apart. Pilot Karen “Bunny” O’Hare’s no-nonsense attitude and ability to react quickly under pressure make her a standout in the sea of characters, and while many of the main players find themselves thrust onto the front lines of this battle, a handful of politicians navigate the war safely behind closed doors, leaving readers with a chilling realization of who is really pulling the strings.
To achieve that, Holden’s narrative must dart rapidly between viewpoints, mimicking the chaos of war and the quick wit needed to survive it. To help orient readers, Holden supplies a comprehensive cast list as well as a detailed map of the island area for reference. Although Pagasa is part of a larger series, it can be read as an inviting standalone. Readers looking to sink into a war saga rich with differing perspective–and gape at the possibilities of next-gen tech–will enjoy this thriller.
Takeaway: This accomplished high-tech, near-future military thriller admirably examines all sides of its vivid international conflict.
Great for fans of: Richard Herman’s The China Sea, Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis’s 2034: A Novel of the Next World War.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B