Okay, I have to start by saying that Ender's Game is my very favorite book of all time. So the reason this book is getting three stars is because of its nods to that book. The whole first half of the book I was near to squealing with excitement because I'd found a grown-up M/M version of my favorite book.... And then the second half happened.
If I could rate the two halves separately, the first half would, without question, get 5 stars. Even though Chaz is one of the dumbest names I've come across in M/M, I liked the character. And the first time he meets Ferron is awesome and powerful and just so much fun. Plus, the fact that they're basically at battle school! With the colored strips of light in the corridors to lead them places, and that they're on a space station to train to fight a race of aliens who have a hive mind and were beaten the last time by a sneaky one-man attack who got close enough to kill their queen. Seriously, grown up M/M version of my favorite book. I was LOVING it!
The second half, however, would get one star, maybe two. The decisions that Ferron made just didn't seem to make sense. Not to mention that I just plain don't understand how raping someone is an effective way to get their mind to open up and link to yours. Having them achieve that "perfect connection" the first time through violence like that seemed... wrong. Not just because, obviously, non-con is never okay, but because Ferron had been so kind and so patient with Chaz up to that point. It seemed totally out of character for him to even think that forcing the connection would make it happen.
Plus, there was so much unexplored potential in this half of the book. I kept waiting for an explanation of how the Needles work, of how it feels to fly in one, of why on earth a bunch of homophobic army engineers would create a ship like that in the first place... I guess I just felt like there was this wonderful world- and character- building going on in the first half of the book, and that it never achieved the potential that it could have.
I would love to go back and to get to read the first half over and over again (I know, I've mentioned it before, but a grown-up M/M version of Ender's Game! seriously! <3) and I suppose I will just have to make up in my head a better way for these two to get to their HEA than to have to go through that yucky 2nd half over again.