Halo: Initiation by Brian Reed
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Based on her role in Halo 4, it seems like Sarah Palmer was intended to be the “face” of the new Halo generation and the Spartan-IVs. And on the surface, she seems like a pretty great character; she’s a Commander, which is cool, and she’s voiced by legendary voice actor and perennial fan favorite Jennifer Hale. Unfortunately, her characterization throughout the game is uneven and even somewhat unlikable, and those problems extend to this book which was meant to serve as an origin story for the character.
Palmer’s character is, for lack of a better term, just flat-out unlikable as a protagonist. It’s always great for characters to have flaws, of course, but those flaws do need to be tempered with characteristics that cause an audience to identify with the main character. Even worse, Palmer is uneven, at first disliking the Spartans for being “superior” and then lording that same superiority when she becomes a Spartan herself. There’s also the odd inconsistency in her rank and promotion: originally, her character was supposedly a lieutenant before she became a Spartan, which would make sense, but here she’s a lowly corporal . . . which means that, by the time of Halo 4, she’s jumped how many ranks in how short a time?
Basically, it’s just hard to root for her, and as this story is entirely focused on introducing us to her character, it drags the entire story down, even though the rest of the book is pretty decent. Fortunately, I’ve also read the next book in the Halo graphic novel line, Escalation Volume 1, and that story does a great deal to redeem Palmer’s character.
Thus, I’d say skip this one entirely. It doesn’t do anything for the character except make you dislike her, which is a huge problem for a backstory book.