Despite the inclusion of women throughout the military and government agencies, there are still certain areas where the overriding belief is that women do not belong, period. One of these in particular is special forces teams where there is both a strong bond among team members and a reliance on the superior strength of every member of the team during a mission. Miles to Go focuses on an FBI special forces team and a female character who is particularly suited to join such a team.
The pet project of FBI Director Stephen Wilson is an international counterterrorism special forces team, known as CT3. The head of the committee approving funds for the project has an eye on the inclusion of women in such projects and the approval of funds for the trial program comes with a stipulation. Of twelve positions, two teams of five plus two alternates, two must be given to women. This opens the door for Rennie Vogel, a woman whose overall strength and abilities match those of her male counterparts better than many of the men have ever seen before. She pushes herself to her own limits, and fights the beliefs of the men around her, throughout the grueling training in order to claim one of the two open positions. In the end, a taxing obstacle course decides whether the position Rennie has earned will be as a permanent member of one of the teams, or as an alternate.
The story of Rennie’s fight to earn a spot on the CT3 team as well as the resulting mission is a engaging and well written. The book understandably evokes images of the movie G.I. Jane, but it goes so much further with a character that has depth and internal struggles when getting embroiled in an impossible situation. The story begins with the candidates enduring the grueling training and this is the part of the book that I enjoyed the most. I couldn’t put it down while wondering what would come next for Rennie.
While Rennie and her team are out on a mission things unfortunately go drastically wrong and Rennie is forced to make difficult decisions and rely on her own inner strength to survive. The book maintains the fast pace that is set at the beginning as Rennie tries to continue with the mission. She is trying to prove both to herself and others that assigning a woman to a special forces team was not a mistake, and the fact that she’s willing to go to almost any length for this raises the tension of the story and makes it an even more engrossing experience for the reader.
Throughout the book, the POV shifts between characters which provides some unique insight to the overall story as some of the POV’s are from the “enemy.” This works well within the book, and the shifts are clean and well differentiated. My only issue came near the end of the book when the majority of the POV’s are not Rennie’s. Though it is clear why these are included, to drive the story toward the ending, I found myself missing Rennie. At times there might have been a few too many secondary characters with their corresponding POV’s. The plot and resolution could have still been reached with a bit less confusion from the multitude of additional characters.
Rennie is a lesbian, and due to demands from her job she has little time for a relationship. Within the book we get a glimpse of a couple women Rennie has spent time with, mostly as a way to kill time and satisfy base needs. Within the book, Rennie forms a particularly strong connection with two female characters. Both are introduced to Rennie under extreme conditions, adding a rare intensity due to shared experiences. The second connection was expected yet was well detailed and developed to make it easy to embrace. It was the first connection that I was more intrigued by, and I can’t help but hope that there will be a return of the character. Through her relations with the women, we learn more about Rennie and it helps make her an even more well-developed character.
The ending of the book is quite abrupt and a lot of questions about Rennie’s future are left unanswered. This can work in one of two ways for readers. Some readers might be frustrated by the lack of a “happily ever after” ending, but I expect that many will be like me, clambering for the next book in what I can only hope the author intends to be a series. At the end of the book I was left quite curious about what will come next for Rennie and I definitely want to read more about this character.
Overall this is a very well executed story about a fiercely strong woman who challenges herself and others by attaining a position on a special forces team, a feat most around her think is impossible. The action moves quickly and it’s easy to quickly become invested in the story. Rennie is a fascinating character and it’s clear the author has barely cracked the surface of possibilities. I anxiously await another book about this character and definitely recommend Miles to Go for anyone who enjoys reading about strong female characters.