I was talking to a co-worker about "throw at the wall" category books, and this story popped to mind but I can't place it. I'm not sure if it's a novel or a shorter work; I don't recall enough detail for a novel, but it's entirely possible I didn't finish it. I would have read this before 2005, I think.
In the story there are some unknown, unseen aliens who send a warship to attack Earth every decade or so. Each warship approaches Earth slowly from interstellar space, giving Earth lots of time to react. The ship is invulnerable to weapons like particle beams and fusion missiles, but can be boarded by a small party of people to shut it off. (For some reason the aliens have incredible armour and impenetrable point defence, but it's possible to fly a shuttle up to the unprotected, undefended airlock and board the damn thing.)
As I recall, this has been going on for a while (but nobody has bothered trying to figure out where the alien ships are coming from and stop them) and each ship is ever so slightly better protected than the last. (It's like someone pre-wrote the novelization of a level-based action video game.) So, for example, if on the first one the human team opened the airlock, walked to the control room and hit the big red self destruct button, then the second warship put a door on the control room, and the third warship had a robot defending the door to the control room.
(But, note, really stupid aliens because they never thought "why do we have an accessible airlock that people can walk through?" or "why do we need to put a self-destruct button on our warship at all?")
So much of it made no sense, like if it's possible to land a party of four or six people, why not more? If you can fly a shuttle up to the damn thing, why not two or three? Why not put a giant-ass freaking bomb in the shuttle instead of a few squishy meatbags?
Either I borrowed this, or it was in a collection with other works, because I have no memory of burning it.