Yes, you read the title right, and I'm reviewing MechWarrior: Dark Age #23: Surrender Your Dreams.
I'll get to why this book is actually worthy of an academic review in a bit, but first more on the book itself.
For those who are interested in picking up the MechWarrior books because they've played the collectible figure game or one of the video games out now -- do not start with this book. Go back at least as far as Fortress Republic or before to start, if you want this book to make any sense.
For those who have been with the MechWarrior universe for a while, this is a fantastic book. It is quite different from most MechWarrior books in a variety of ways. Most striking is the use of the postmodernist literary tool of breaking up and re-arranging time, so the author can jump back and forth between the characters and their lives to better tell the story of the character themselves. Chapter titles give a good clue to this and had the author been a literary snob or simply evil, he may have left it at that. Fortunately, he also placed locations and dates (including a reference to the start of Fortress Republic) that allow the reader to keep temporal orientation with the story. Also different from most MechWarrior stories is the focus on politics and strategy more than the tactics of a single battle or set of battles. This allows for the final major difference of plunging the entire MechWarrior universe into one large moral state of grey, as opposed to the usual more black and white outlook prevalent in most of the books in the series. What makes someone a "good guy" or "bad guy" in the MechWarrior usually has been clearer, but this book has turned many prior notions about the MechWarrior universe on its ear. "Morally squishy" is about as good as one gets in this book and to good effect, although redemption is still possible.
If you are at all interested in the MechWarrior universe, you'll want to read this book. Lots of plot lines aren't neatly completed by the end of the book, but there are a few shocking plotlines from the Battletech universe that predated Dark Age that have important new developments. I'd love to tell you more, but it would ruin the surprise....
All of this brings me back to the title with which I started this review. While the plot and writing style are interesting, nothing there breaks new ground. What is interesting is how the series takes plot strands from the Battletech universe (both books and games) that seemed resolved or inconsequential and brings them back to focus in the current series. Thomas Marik is one example of this -- long dead in the universe, one would have expected him to be little more than a footnote in MechWarrior history, a nod for readers that have been with the series for years. Yet, in this book, he becomes a pivotal figure in a new interstellar war. Couple this use of "pop canon," for lack of a better phrase, and note the use of different forms of media (in this case, other books, pencil-and-paper game references, the collectable figures game references, multiple video games on different platforms, the internet, and I've even heard a cartoon was made), you have the basis for an interesting academic review of how stories and mythology are made and told today. One could compare and contrast other similar examples, such as various aspects of the Joss Weadon universe(s).
Overall, and excellent book, but not for newcomers to the Mechwarrior universe and probably a book better suited for adults than other books in the series. 5 stars, with the understanding that it is essentially a pulp sci-fi novel at heart.