Sometimes, you’re just not quite ready to read certain books. Maybe its the mood you’re in. Maybe you’ve got other things on your mind.

Halo: The Fall of Reach–The Definitive Edition was published in 2010, and has 27 additional pages more than the original, which debuted in 2001 (around the time Halo: Combat Evolved launched for the X-Box). I don’t know the main differences between the two editions, so I’m reviewing the 2010 version.

I bought the book about four or five years ago. I remember reading through the prologue and the first couple chapters and I recall being bored with it. So I set it down. It eventually ended up in a box of books I’d intended to sell.

Then I recently moved, found the box with the book, and thought: “Let’s give this another shot.”

I finished the book in two days.

Maybe I made the false assumption that its only “background filler” to explain the origins of the Master Chief John-117 from Halo video game series. Again, I don’t quite remember.

This is a shame, because there is a good story here. There’s lots of action, a decent plot, some deep moral and ethical quandaries, and even the Master Chief develops as a character over the course of the novel. It isn’t all guns and glory.

Indeed, the story is pretty dark. We’re talking about the planned extinction of humanity by an alien race known as the Covenant in the 26th Century.  And, as it turns out, humanity was about to tear itself apart in a massive galactic civil war.

Thus, the United Nations Space Command turned to drastic measures and created the SPARTAN-II super soldier project. Children who’ve been identified a the best genetic specimens, are kidnapped, conscripted, indoctrinated, and raised to become the saviors of humanity.

One of these children is John-117, who is obsessed with winning near the beginning of the book. Yet as he comes of age and learns more about his role in saving humanity, he has to come to grips with a sobering fact: sometimes, winning isn’t everything, sometimes you have to survive to fight another day.

You don’t need to be familiar with the Halo series to enjoy this book. There’s a solid story here.

Again, I’m not sure why I put the book down all those years ago. But I’m glad I finally read it.

Now I’m tempted to plug-in the old X-Box and start the Halo series over again