Friendship Games Earns Prestigious Kirkus Star


Kirkus Reviews weighed in on Friendship Games with a starred review. Of thousands of books reviewed each year, only 10% of Kirkus reviewed books earn the coveted Kirkus star. By earning the Kirkus star, Friendship Games is automatically in consideration for the literary Kirkus Prize.

Here is the Kirkus review in full: 

"A profound and thought-provoking thriller examining humankind's self-destructive tendencies." 

"James' military thriller follows the ominous chain of events triggered when an American aircraft carrier is presumably attacked in the Persian Gulf.

When the USS George W. Bush, a United States Navy aircraft carrier, is apparently attacked and sunk by Iranian terrorists off the coast of Bahrain—killing thousands of crewmembers—the quickly escalating cascade of consequences entangles numerous nations that have financial and military interests with the countries involved, pushing the superpowers to the brink of a potentially civilization-ending third world war. Centuries-old governmental relationships are put to the test as the United States aggressively appeals to allies to join in their war against Iran and terrorist organizations plotting to bring down "the Great Satan." The nonstop action and complex political drama unfold through many varying perspectives, including those of Seaman Apprentice Thew Bryson, U.S. President Cynthia Belle, jihadist Jamal Al-Dosari, and Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Hashemi Ghavam. The structure of the novel is a bit unconventional—the story focuses on not just one or two protagonists but multiple characters with a more muted emphasis—making for a much more comprehensive and thematically powerful narrative. Additionally, the equally unorthodox conclusion works well, compelling readers to consider the ultimate consequences of the extreme events at the novel's end. Fans of hard military fiction will be more than satisfied with the author's impressive knowledge and meticulous descriptions of weaponry and warfare: "When the bomb bay doors opened on the twenty-five FC-31 Gyrfalcons of Samii's squadron, the automated Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS, or 'sea whiz') radar aboard the four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers… immediately detected the aircraft and then the missiles." Equal parts geopolitical thriller, mystery, and military fiction, James' novel paints a dire portrait of humanity's precarious position in the throes of international conflict.

A profound and thought-provoking thriller examining humankind's self-destructive tendencies."

- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)