Friday, September 28, 2012

Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller - review...and then there's The Steve Miller Band :)

**I can't help it.  When I read the author titles, I keep hearing this song..."really love your peaches wanna shake yo tree....ooee baby I'll sure show you a good time" - raise your hand if you remember the Steve Miller Band
The song - The Joker, which when I was 15 and just dating, was one of my favorite songs  :)**

Okay - got that out of my system, now I'm ready to write this review....and thanks for your patience

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
A Liaden novel

*****  (five out of six stars) 

cover - yes, it's shallow - but I didn't like this lady's face.  However, I do like the cover in general - the way she's leaning into the...wind?gravity?  you'll find out....(if you read the book)

Okay, where have these books been?  Why is it that I've never heard of this writing duo before?  or this series?  Seriously!!!  I've been CRAVING a good SciFi series since I've read all my current favorite SciFi writers' series.  While this book isn't right up there with my favorites, I think I enjoyed the hell out of it.  To think I almost missed out....

***may contain minor spoilers***

I bought this book on a whim, even though I wasn't crazy about the cover (y'know, that's usually what grabs me first, the cover).  Then I read the blurb, and it sounded weird, but weird enough for me to give it a try.  Then, after getting it home, I read the first couple of pages and thought, "Oh Hell! I made a mistake" so I put it aside.  But after reading all those kick ass urban fantasy novels, and seriously craving a SciFi yet not quite wanting to commit to a bible length tome that I had sitting here (another whim possibly gone bad) - then trying to read a couple that just didn't do it for me.... I finally thought "hell, might as well give this another try".  

See - the first chapter was a all about this young teen dealing with having to pack up her room closet (in a little CUBE - totally scifiey) and move from her house father's house in the sweet country to The Wall.  The Wall is a sterile building full of apartments for the academic scholars of this planet Delgado.  The rooms are completely white.  White walls, white floors, white everything.  And her mother is behaving cold and brittle.  Theo, young teen, is devastated that her mother has suddenly put aside her father.  Things are weird.  To be honest, this first chapter with Theo being so obviously young and angry about her parent's separation and the subsequent move almost stopped me....and I'm glad I eventually went back to reading this novel.  Because the Theo's story is one of change - change of heart, attitude and ability.

One of the interesting things about this world is the apparently Matriarchal society.  The woman is definitely in charge, picking and choosing the man, asking the first date, showing interest while the male waits to be noticed.  Both sexes are professors and workers.  The society is completely, overwhelmingly dedicated to safety.  It's almost like a version of communism, or big brother-like in the way it's handled (or combination of the two).  There are Eyes that monitor.  People are strongly encouraged to think in terms of teams, not only as selves.  There are files on the students.  A mother's rights can be subverted if people want to force their will on her decisions. There's way more to this; thankfully the explanations of the society, ethics, constraints, etc. are "shown" and not "told".  The details are weaved seamlessly within the story and actions of the characters.

I definitely found the story growing on me the further I read.  While the first chapter originally had me putting this book aside, as I read the second and third chapters I found myself increasingly involved in the story and Theo's journey from a labeled clumsy girl into a self confident, or rather ever growing self confident young woman.   On top of that, there's this very cool sinister plot going on in the academic world.

See, Theo's mother not only left her man, but returned to The Wall to subchair a department.  This department has recently fired a scholar for scholarly misconduct.  Theo's mother ends up having to put together a team to study some documents off planet, and ends up taking Theo with her, which of course really gets to Theo.  Theo, a young girl who everyone seems determined to prove to be a danger to others from her clumsy ways ends up in a boarding school where life takes an amazing turn for her - but only after a 200 day trip that begins her period of self discovery, thanks to a young trainee pilot and a rather mysterious scout pilot.   They see something in Theo that she doesn't recognise in herself.  And they subtly alter her course in life by befriending her and exposing her to what seems to her to be a simple ball game and a dance game.

In the meantime, her house father is working behind the scenes on Delgado, searching for clues of his own.  He's looking at a much larger picture regarding this fired scholar's actions and the reasons behind it.  Theo's father in fact, comes from another world, another society with a completely different way of doing things.  He has a very mysterious  past...

I found Fledgling to be a fun read, with quite a few interesting characters.  The dialogue was good, the villians were varied and interesting in their own right.  And there a few changes taking place with Theo, Theo's mom, and other characters.  A very satisfying read, which is making me want to explore more of this Liaden Universe - enough so that when I saw a copy of Ghost Ship in the store this very night, I snagged it up and started reading it.  Even though there is at least one other between Fledgling and Ghost Ship. I don't care, I just want to read more about Theo's adventures.  And so far, there's this oh so very interesting ship that seems to have the ability to make its own decisions.....

The book between Fledgling and Ghost Ship is Saltation, which I think is about Theo's college, or whatever the equivalent of college for her would be - trade school? Trade school on steroids!   Looks interesting, but it wasn't at the store tonight and I don't have the patience to put Ghost Ship aside and order Saltation.  I'll go ahead and read out of order.  Something I rarely do, but sometimes it's necessity!  (haha, that's a reference to something that seems to be an important code word in Theo's father's world).  So - I'm extremely happy to have found a new series to obsess over.  A new SciFi series that has SciFi gadgets, planets, and a STORY.  :)  And space travel - I love space/star ship travel stories with pilots and crew.  
Jeez - I HAVE to get this middle book!  
Then there are the other nine or ten books in this Liaden Universe to explore.....

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