Althea Ann's Reviews > Cagebird

Cagebird by Karin Lowachee
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Jun 06, 12

Read from June 04 to 06, 2012

Warchild, Burndive, Cagebird

Interesting series. I got these because I'd seen them highly reviewed somewhere; of course, now I don't remember where.
In many ways, they're basic military SF - I'd recommend them, with some reservations, to fans of Lois McMaster Bujold, maybe CJ Cherryh.
Each one has a different young man as the protagonist, but they follow one timeline, and link to each other, with many shared characters.All of them are very homosensual. All the young men are super-cute, and there is much tousling of hair. (Is the author's hair an erogenous zone? It's really non-stop.) At times I was like, "Um, am I reading yaoi here?" At other times... well, it gets disturbing. That's where my reservations arise. I wouldn't normally 'warn' any reader off a book for content, but if you are sensitive about child abuse, I would not recommend the second two in this series, and especially not the third, due to explicit scenes of rape and abuse. It doesn't just discuss it, but while condemning the perpetrators, it's still oddly mixed with the eroticism.
The first one is the best of the bunch. Not necessarily BECAUSE, but it is much more restrained and understated. You know bad things happened to the protagonist, but he is in denial, and refuses to talk about them. This actually makes the trauma very real and believable. With the second and third, I almost felt like the author was just trying to see how far she could push it...
The first book, Warchild, sets up the world: Humanity has become spacefaring, and discovered a moon full of valuable resources. Unfortunately, it was already colonized by an alien scientific mission. Humans try to take over, and a war starts. Some humans sympathize with the alien cause, and go over to their side. Meanwhile, vicious starfaring pirates take advantage of the social instability, and prey on whoever and whatever they can get their hands on. One of the worst of the pirates is Falcone, a former space Marine captain with an obsession with raising young boys to be his proteges... and treating them in ways that leave them horribly damaged, in the process. The main character here, the adorable Jos Musey, is orphaned by an attack by Falcone on his family's merchant ship, and taken by Falcone, who has plans for him. However, Jos takes advantage of the chaos of an alien attack to escape... and finds himself in the hands of sympathizers, who train him in alien martial arts. Next, he's sent undercover to infiltrate the marines...
These are are kind of 'familiar' scenarios, but the book does a great job of portraying emotional manipulation and conflicting loyalties.
Burndive is the second book. (And kind of oddly titled - a 'Burndive' is virtual reality hacking, and there is very little of it in the book... less than in the first book.) The protagonist here is, of course, cute. He's the son of the most famous Marine captain, and a bit of a celebrity. He's also a spoiled brat, and not really nearly as compelling a character as that of Jos. Ryan (the spoiled celeb), has a bit of a drug problem, but his bigger problem is assassination attempts... his father's attempts to make peace with the aliens haven't gone over well in some circles, and some people are more than willing to kill him to get to his dad. The dad takes him abouard his ship - both for safety, and as a bit of a boot camp program to whip him into shape and get him to grow up a bit. Space action ensues... and we learn more about Falcone, the captain, Azarcon, and why he hates pirates more than aliens.
In the third, Cagebird, we get to see thing from the point of view of the 'bad guys.' The protagonist here is Yuri - yet another of Falcone's proteges. This one hasn't run away or escaped... he's become a captain under Falcone's command. However, he's far from not-messed-up - he's full of emotional conflict, and has a tendency to cut himself. Of course, he's also a bad-ass that will just as soon kill you as... The narrative switches from showing how Yuri got to where he is, with training (mostly to be a prostitute) under Falcone, to the present, where military and political negotiations involving pirates, symps, aliens, marines, and the human HubCentral government are ongoing.
These three books are all there are to the series; but it doesn't really feel quite done. The second two concentrate on Falcone's story arc - and really neglect the part of the story that has to do with Niko (the Warboy) and the alien/human conflict. There's definitely room for another book here.
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