First, the positives...there were a lot of fun one liners in this book, a reasonable number of interesting characters, and essentially non-stop action. This made for a fairly quick read.
Unfortunately, for me the negatives rather outweigh the positives. Strike one, it's written in first person present tense. Mostly from the viewpoint of a single character (Durango), but there are some others thrown in there "when necessary". I find first person present tense to be very tricky to pull off properly in fiction. It isn't bad here, but there are a few rough spots and it is hard to get a full sense of the passage of time (not withstanding the date/time stamps at the start of each chapter).
Strike two, starting in medias res
combined with throwing a whole lot of unfamiliar terms and story elements at the reader with no explanations given whatsoever. While I am no real fan of the extended info-dump (it usually bogs down a story something fierce), having to piece together what things are and how they work with no confirmation as to whether or not I am doing it correctly isn't particularly fun either. There has to be a balance, and that balance wasn't present here. Having lots of flashy action only carries things so far.
Strike three, there's a definite sense of "story soup" going on here. I could see elements that track to Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek, Ender's Game, and samurai films. The tech seems very much subject to hand-wavium, and seems applied inconsistently throughout the story. I found it hard to get a real sense of time and place as a result. Particularly when you have a few characters in a far-distant, semi-dystopian future still quoting heavily from 19th century literature and 20th century culture (and people get the references without problems). Oh, and the mishmash of languages being dropped (untranslated, mind you) here and there, apparently for the purposes of flavour and world-building? Didn't work for me. There were too many of them, they weren't consistently applied, and it just came across as sloppy.
The story is also quite violent. This is to be expected as Durango and company are
mercenary soldiers, but still. There were a number of places where it was really hard to follow the action, and on more than one occasion I found myself wondering just how things were supposed to work from a physics perspective. If I'm thinking more about the physics and logistics of a fight than the tension it is supposed to be building in the story, then I'd say something isn't working properly with the story.
I got this book through the B&N Nook Free Friday program.