Tanner Malone is a book smart young lad who has his entire future ahead of him. Unfortunately, due to an inability to handle stress well, he bombs on the Test. The Test being the equivalent of the SAT that meant the difference between whether he would have his student debt wiped out or be able to continue onward to higher education. Like many people denied opportunities, he ends up deciding to try a tour in the military in hopes of getting away from his lack of options back home.
Simultaneously, the charismatic Captain Casey is leading a band of pirates that is marauding band of murderers that specifically target ultra-rich targets then murder the 1% found among them. A burning anger exists within him toward the system and however sympathetic, it motivates him to commit an increasingly brutal series of atrocities. All the while attempting to recruit as many working class spacers as possible into their ranks before driving them to commit atrocities so they can't back out.
Much of the story deals with the fact that Tanner starts as the kind of guy that Casey used to be and other characters have similarities to. I was left with a big question over whether or not Tanner would join the pirates when he finally got a chance to do so. However, the actions of the pirates got increasingly dark and I had to wonder if, instead, it would be illustrating just how different they were at the end. I won't spoil the answer for you but the final third of the book proves to be an extended action sequence that answers that question handily.
Part of what I liked about this book is that it carries a fairly significant amount of social satire. Much of what motivates the protagonists is the awful economy that is slanted against them before they can even try to compete in society. As someone who had significant amounts of student debt myself, I was clearly wrong about it being a good way to finish my education. Whether that's the best way to motivate a protagonist in a rip-roaring action space adventure is anyone's guess but at least it's different.
Indeed, my biggest complaint about the book is the fact that it does become a bit of a generic action movie toward the end when I was actually most interested in the characterization as well as setting. Finding out how the corporations nickel and dime the population may be an odd thing to wonder about in a military science fiction book but I did. I enjoyed finding out how Tanner, Casey, and others lived in the setting to the point the action felt a bit like a distraction.
In conclusion, Poor Man's Fight is a fun little space opera that I think that people looking for a fun read will enjoy. I wouldn't say its an undiscovered classic but it's definitely higher than most Kindle Unlimited fiction I've read and will be picking up the next volume in the series. It's definitely a good afternoon's read. I am going to pick up the sequels and hope they get more into the world-building and politics of the setting.