Book Review: D.O.G.: Executive Order – Fifty Shades of Gunmetal

D.O.G.

“The president had no answer to this question. When he developed his plan, he failed to consider the death notification protocol that now existed within the defense department.”

D.O.G.: Executive Order (Locations 1975-1976)

The Plot

From Amazon: To save his presidency and assure re-election, an arrogant, power-hungry president must end his illegal connections with a terrorist leader before that leader follows through on his threat to make public their relationship. Gunnery Sergeant Zach Hinson and Sergeant First Class Jason Jones, sniper team D.O.G., are ordered to assassinate the terrorist leader, but for the president, it is not enough.

Fearful the sniper team will let slip their involvement, the president agrees to the mission to kill the terrorist leader on the condition the two snipers do not return home alive. But, his effort to save his presidency becomes a war when it is learned the man with whom he has dealt with to kill team D.O.G. has failed to act on his agreement.

Writing Style

I think a lot of care went into editing this book, but even so, I found it difficult to read. The language was stiff and, many times, verbose. Sometimes, less really is more. This third person narrative makes the same common errors that I have been finding for the last few years. Third person, by necessity, often requires the use of the past tense and, at times, the present doing tense. As a result of this, many authors have forgotten how to use the word “that”. I have used an excerpt from the book, below, and struck what I found to be superfluous information, and entered in red what I think might have worked better, or been more grammatically sound:

“Zach continued looking through his scope, which was designed for use in daylightor darkness and night use, anxious to see their target so that this mission would end.” (Locations 72-73)

“I’m the President,” the president he screamed as he slammed his fist onto his desk. “Are you telling me that he is more powerful than Ime? Are you telling me that with all the power at my disposal, I must continue to allow this, this person to be a the thorn in my side, that could destroy me? Are you telling me that he cannot be destroyed?” (Locations 3478-3480)

Further, the entire book was written in short, two to three sentences paragraphs (often filled with far too many commas). This fragmented the narrative and inadvertently caused the reader to break their train of thought. This happened in spite of all the paragraphs being related to the once particular event, person, or character thought. This stylistic choice meant that my creation of the world in the book, in my imagination, lacked fluidity. The plodding writing style, together with this fractured world building made it very difficult for me to really get into the story, which is a shame. I have inserted a screenshot below of a page from early on in the book, to better illustrate, visually, what I am trying to explain here:

Exectutive Order Exerpt.jpg

The Review

I was extremely hopeful, when I was asked to review this book. One of my favourite genres, in film and literature, is a good political/military thriller. Among my favourite films and books are: The Manchurian Candidate, The Kingdom, Three Kings, The Bourne Identity Series, Basic, The Interpreter,  The Sum of All Fears,  Enemy of the State,  Spy Game,  Munich,  Syriana,  The Hurt Locker,  Body of Lies, and  The Siege. This is not an exhaustive list, obviously, but it should give you an idea of the types of thrillers I enjoy within this sub-genre. By extension, I am also a huge action fan, again in both film and literature.

I’ve explained how the writing style made it difficult for me to really sink my teeth into this book. Another aspect that I found to be completely redundant, within the larger narrative of the story, was the time spent over-explaining hardware and unrelated events. More specifically, the author did not need to list any given weapon’s specs, especially if those specs had no bearing on the actual events in the book. Moreover, a gun enthusiast will automatically know that a Glock 21 is a .45 caliber weapon with a 10 or 13 round magazine. Further, a non-enthusiast simply will not care about those details. It felt like most of the hardware spec recitation and military jargon were inserted to make the narrative more “authentic”, but ended up feeling forced and clunky. These details might be important for some readers but they could have been introduced with more finesse. A possible solution to this could be through direct speech. For example, sniper rifles are calibrated for and by the user. No sniper would let anyone fiddle or handle their weapon of choice, on a whim. Someone asking about, or to look at, the weapon could easily segue the narrative into a sundry list of specs in a more organic way, through conversation.

I wanted to enjoy this book, and I think that the plot itself is fun, and could be fast paced. It’s exactly the sort of hide-and-seek narrative that I enjoy the most. It’s not entirely original but that isn’t a problem. For me, the errors, strange writing style and overabundance of useless, non-essential information, detracted from the story and left me frustrated. I think that a rewrite and edit could fix most of these issues, and greatly benefit the book by focusing the narrative on the primary plot.

My rating: 2½/5

Buy D.O.G.: Executive Order on Amazon.

This review was requested by the author.

You might like:

Enemy of the State (Unrelated to the film by the same name)

The Manchurian Candidate (Source material for the film by the same name)

The Bourne Identity (Source material for the film by the same name)

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