Monday, July 16, 2012

Blue Skies by Ali Vali

Publisher:        Bold Strokes Books

Books that are based on current events are terrific and worrisome.  The terrific part is that they seem extremely believable and may teach people about situations they’ve ignored in the evening news.  The worrisome aspect is that, because the story is so realistic, everything in the book takes on a feeling of being factual when in fact it isn’t.

Berkley Levine is a Top Gun instructor for the Navy in Fallon, Nevada.  She’s excels at what she does and is one of the best instructors available.  Berkley doesn’t miss the action of serving in a combat position because she is nursing a broken heart caused by Aidan Sullivan.  Aidan put her career before everything when she was offered the opportunity to be the first female captain of an aircraft carrier, the USS Jefferson.  Tensions rise between the US and North Korea and the Jefferson is given secret orders to destroy a nuclear facility in North Korea.  Aidan uses all of her influence to get the pilot she knows she needs to lead her air wing and the attack on the plant.  Bringing them together on the same ship reignites the relationship they once had, but their positions are more than a complication.  What the women don’t know is that they are part of a bigger plot within the government to compromise a new president and possibly bring down the system in a military and political coup d’etat.

The reader will need to completely disregard the improbability of the relationship between Berkley and Aidan.  The military has strict protocols against affairs between people of different ranks, not to mention that, when this book was originally written, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still very much in effect.  Once the reader gets past that barrier, however, she can enjoy an extremely well-crafted story.

Blue Skies could come off of the front of today’s newspapers with the concern over North Korea’s nuclear program and the instability that country threatens to inject into world affairs.  Knowledge of that situation enhances the power of what Vali writes about.  It’s a fast paced action story that will hold the reader’s attention with a high level of tension, especially once the mission begins.  It’s populated by interesting and well-rounded characters.  Berkley has the swagger of a military pilot and could easily be seen taking over Tom Cruise’s role in “Top Gun” or posing as one of the original astronauts.  She has that laid back, never get ruffled attitude down pat.  Aidan is a classic example of the Naval Academy graduate who is determined to make a name for herself in what has been a man’s world.  She’s as tough and professional as any of them.  It’s almost playing against type for them to be attracted to each other, but in this case it works.  Vali manages to take a North Korean pilot and make her an appealing and commanding character in the story, not an easy task.

Blue Skies is an exciting book with good characters and an interesting story line.  The fact that it may not be totally based on reality doesn’t detract from enjoying it at all.  This is one that it’s easy to recommend to people.

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