The Average Gamer

Homefront: The Voice of Freedom Review (Novel)

Homefront: The Voice of Freedom is the story of a journalist’s life in the days leading up to the Korean invasion featured in THQ’s upcoming Homefront game. It’s also, without a doubt, the worst novel I have had the misfortune of reading in the past decade.

It’s a game tie-in novel, you could argue. I should have known what I was getting myself into. Well, yes but despite my crusty, cynical exterior, I am an eternal optimist. Against my better judgement I constantly believe that if I keep giving things another chance then one day I could be justly rewarded.

Not this time.

The Voice of Freedom is written by John Milius and Raymond Benson. You follow the action through two distinct threads – Ben Walker, the everyman journalist just trying to make his way through life and Salmusa, a senior official in the Korean invasion. For added fun, there are snippets from Walker’s diary wherein you get to read him describing the events that you’ve already read about from the third-person narrator. That sort of thing can be a nice characterisation technique that shows the protagonist’s emotional slant on each calamity.

Instead, we read about Walker quitting his job, going home and pouring himself a glass of Jack Daniels. 6 pages later, we get a diary extract telling us that he quit his job, he’s at home and he’s going to pour himself a glass of Jack Daniels.

Well, thanks guys.

The rest of the novel doesn’t fare much better. Milius and Benson prefer to shun dialogue in favour of long-winded political, historical or just plain physical descriptions of what’s happening, violating that sacred rule of “show, don’t tell” at every given opportunity. It’s probably just as well that dialogue is minimal because every single person speaks with the same dry emotionless voice. The one character that does seem to have personality is distinguished not by his voice, but by his death-rattle of a cough. In a world populated by description-spewing robots, I found myself immediately latching on to him over Walker’s protagonist. Unfortunately, his outcome was just as predictable as I’d feared.

When it comes to action, everything is similarly remote. Whether Walker is in the middle of a carpet-bombing run, caught in the crossfire or taking on his first firefight, it’s as if the world is filled with red-shirt cannon fodder. Anonymous bystanders frequently “die instantly”. It’s impossible to give a shit about the parents or children lost in the collateral damage of an assault near a school because you’ve only just been told that they were there. Those that you are supposed to care about still continue with their “I’m fixing the radio now” level of emotion which completely dismisses the level of peril you would expect them to be under.

No, this is not a good book. Do Not Want.

But hey, if you really love your gaming backstory or prefer detailed descriptions of military weaponry over character development then who am I to stop you? Buy it from Forbidden Planet for £5.99 or the Kindle edition for £5.75. Alternatively, drop us a comment below and I’ll send you my copy for just the cost of postage ;)

Curious about the verdict? Read our review policy.