Nice little teen ghost-story. At my job I see a bunch of pre-pub review copies of things, and I picked this one up on a whim. A good first novel from...moreNice little teen ghost-story. At my job I see a bunch of pre-pub review copies of things, and I picked this one up on a whim. A good first novel from Alender: her characters seem to be teen-drama cliches at first glance, but once she goes under the surface there's a lot more there. Their stories would have been interesting even if one of them wasn't possessed by a hundred-year-old murderous spirit.(less)
I first read this book thirty years ago, then recently came across it free on Gutenberg. I'm surprised how much of it stuck with me. When I was twelve...moreI first read this book thirty years ago, then recently came across it free on Gutenberg. I'm surprised how much of it stuck with me. When I was twelve, I had no idea it was a YA novel (the paperback wasn't marketed as such) nor did I realize the book was already 20 years old. I was reading lots of Golden Age SF at the time, so by comparison The Colors of Space probably felt positively modern.
At the time of its original publication, I wonder if it was a little subversive. After all, it involves the human race being economically subjugated by the alien Lhari, whose monopoly on interstellar travel is based on a lie - that humans can't survive FTL except in hibernation. Once the whole us-vs-them scenario is set up, though, the whole story becomes an exercise in humanizing the enemy. The plucky teenage hero masquerades as one of the Lhari, infiltrates one of their crews, and sets out to steal the secret of Warp Drive (five years pre-Star Trek) - but comes to realize that the Lhari aren't evil, and that for the most part they're just a bunch of regular guys (except for the retractable claws and color-blindness).
That such a "why can't we all just get along" story was written in the paranoid "with us or against us" years between Korea and Vietnam just goes to show that in science fiction you can get away with anything. Then again, at least the bad guy aliens were good old capitalists at heart.(less)
It's been a long, long time since I've been sucked into a novel so completely as I was with this one. Talk about narrative drive - Suzanne Collins has...moreIt's been a long, long time since I've been sucked into a novel so completely as I was with this one. Talk about narrative drive - Suzanne Collins has it in spades. For the most part, I think of myself as a slow reader, but this one makes me think that maybe I've just been reading slow books.
The Hunger Games is not only engaging, but probably the most brutal book I've read in years. In a way, it's manipulative - gladiatorial combat to the death involving children is an automatic emotional sucker-punch - but Collins goes for tension over shock value. The level of suspense in this book is as sharp as a knife-edge, and doesn't let up - even on the last page.
The trick she plays, I think, is that she never completely takes away all the main character's sense of hope. That's the mistake most dystopian fiction makes: if the protagonist's situation is too bleak, the reader will often shut them out and stop identifying. By occasionally restoring Katniss Everdeen's hope that she can get out of the Games alive, Collins sucks us back to her hellish future, page after page after page.(less)