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The Voice of Freedom by John Milius and Raymond Benson accompanies the 360 and PS3 release of Homefront. It fleshes out the game's world and provides more exposition and -- if a holiday drags you away from your console -- might be just the book to pack in your bag.
I confess to knowing very little about the forthcoming Homefront game and have approached this novelisation purely as a book to read and enjoy in itself. It appears not to follow the character you control in the game (probably a wise choice to avoid cross-media spoilers) and instead focuses on the adventures of a gossip journalist who becomes involved in the fight for liberation.
He sets in motion a plan to broadcast information and entertainment to an United States of America which has been cut off from technology and the rest of the world by North Korean occupation. John Milius is best known for directing and co-writing the film Red Dawn; the premise of the occupation of US soil against a foreign invader is therefore familiar territory and Milius tackles it with skill.
It was the perfect holiday read. The style, setting and obsessive details to military facts and equipment is immediately reminiscent of Tom Clancy. The book's narrative style is comfortably light, although some of the accounts of the brutal occupation may be darker than some readers will appreciate. It's certainly harrowing to imagine the kinds of scenes we regularly hear reported from war-ravaged places -- or in documentaries of historical occupation -- played out on the streets of Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
I found the objectification of the Korean people and their leadership to be a little xenophobic.
While it's a great yarn I personally found the politics of the story a little too far-right. Homefront has sold itself on the premise of a close-to-reality setting in which an economically resurgent North Korea cripples a weakened USA's infrastructure with an EMP explosion before invading and assuming control. I found the objectification of the Korean people and their leadership to be a little xenophobic. Rest assured that it isn't a race issue, per se: the book makes almost excessive efforts to put together a multi-cultural cast of maligned US citizens. There are even North Korean ex-pat characters who are depicted as much victims of the ignorance of the American people as they are of the invading outsiders.
You get the impression that it isn't because they're Korean that they are hated but rather because they are not American. If the US government in the book comes under any criticism it is only for not being more suspicious of North Korea's increased influence during peace-time. This story has one clear simple message: the way of life of the United States of America is right and is to be protected through military hardware and action.
That aside though, Homefront: The Voice of Freedom is a gripping thriller which highlights well the impact of war and occupation on a civilian population and raises some interesting questions about the life and the society many of us take for granted every day.
It highlights well the impact of war and occupation on a civilian population.
This back-story provides me with extra personal motivation for my own actions, when I play Homefront in the future on 360 or PS3. In spite of my hitherto lack of anticipation for Homefront, reading this book and its description of a once familiar world ravaged by war has given me a much greater interest in playing the game.
Even if you have little interest in the game, however, I can recommend The Voice of Freedom to any fans of Clancy-esque military thrillers as a compulsive novel and a thought-provoking setting.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: