GHOST FLEET by P.W. Singer


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A speculative thriller that imagines the next world war.

A Chinese expedition discovers a massive new energy source under the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, but it’s in territory claimed by the U.S. So a post-communist Chinese government known as the Directorate decides what the hell, let’s team up with Russia, disable all U.S. satellite communications, and take whatever we want. In China’s own display of Manifest Destiny, its container ships unload armored tanks in Oahu and take over the island with apparently minimal resistance, bloodshed, or American fury. This is because the high-tech U.S. “Air Force’s toy planes are all hacked,” and “the Directorate owns the heavens.” So the U.S. must rely on the low-tech power of its “Ghost Fleet,” older ships such as the USS Zumwalt, with Jamie Simmons as the captain. Throughout, personnel on both sides are taking “stim tabs” to keep themselves alert for battle. There is violence in the early going, but it’s the penny-ante stuff of individual murders. Only about 300 pages into the novel is there a naval battle with thousands of lives at stake, and one gets the impression that no other fighting is going on around the world. On one level the book is well-done, with plenty of vivid details and individual scenes showing both sides in the conflict. But the passion is missing. Readers may think back to the Japanese hit-and-run attack on Pearl Harbor, which ignited such pure outrage, and wonder where the boiling anger is over a Chinese hit-and-stay attack. Insurgents exist, but any emotions they might have don’t seep into the story.

Overall not a bad read, but it probably won’t keep readers up late—at least not without a few stim tabs.

Pub Date: June 30th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-544-14284-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2015


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