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3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,885 ratings  ·  279 reviews
Ariel may've gone out of print after its 1983 debut, but fans haven't let it fade away. For years, used copies have been making the rounds, commanding a premium auction price & making a profit for used book dealers. Now, you can not only get your own fresh, updated version, you can get it as an ebook. Given its theme, the metamorphosis seems particularly ironic.

For two
Paperback, 1st Edition, 325 pages
Published December 1st 1983 by Ace
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,885 ratings  ·  279 reviews

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N.K. Jemisin
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book as a teenager. Read it to pieces, then could never find another copy. Fortunately it has been reissued, after far too long! It holds up incredibly well -- there are a few minor Handwavium (tm) moments in the plot that I never noticed before, and I can't help laughing now at all these geeky white guys playing samurai, but everything else is perfect. The characterization, the humor, the dreamy apocalyptic beauty of this Changed world... it's all as wonderful as I remem ...more
Dec 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Postapocalypse with unicorn. Ok, I'll bite, especially since I've been hearing about this book from people like Cory Doctorow ever since it was reprinted earlier this year. Apparently little Cory's imagination got rocked by Ariel when he was an adolescent.

And I could see that. Written by a nineteen-year-old boy in 1983 or so, Ariel features a classic love triangle: a beautiful, accomplished, perfect untouchable blonde who for some reason hangs around with our weedy twenty-year-old protagonist; a
Pam Baddeley
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A re-read of a book read years ago and loved then despite the sad ending (no spoiler, but given the premise of a unicorn as a main character and the traditional requirement for their companions to be virgins, it won't be a big suprise). And to begin with, I did love it anew.

However this time around, some of the setting became questionable: for example, when the power goes off on the day of The Change and most modern technology stops working, not only is this rather selective - guns don't work, o
Nov 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Don't read too much in the number of stars I gave this novel. The fact of the matter is, having finished this almost a week ago, I'm still not quite sure what to think of it.

In fact, I'll go one step further. I could easily justify any number of stars for this book: (*mild spoilers abound, particularly in the poorer reviews*)

5 stars: A brutal, but sympathetic, look at innocence, growing up, friendship, and sex that has the good fortune to sit on top of a rollicking post-apocalyptic action-adve
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Originally published in the early 1980's, this is an overlooked gem of a novel that deserves a wider audience. I first read this as a young child, and it stuck with me through the years, despite my misplacing my copy and not being able to find a new one until years later.

I've re-read this a handful of times in the long years since, and (like a select few other books) it never fails to bring back that same sense of wonder any time I read it.

Objectively, it holds up (for the most part) pretty wel
When the apocalypse comes, it will be not with a bang, but a whisper. And it will change everything...

Boyett concerns himself with the world after, and in this story, a boy and his unicorn. It is an adolescent coming-of-age story, and would read well to the 14 - 18 crowd, as its author admits.

What can I say? The ending is as inevitable here as it was in Peter Pan, and in some ways was poorly-handled. While some might suggest that the sex was graphic, having worked with teenaged boys, I can say
Arial Burnz
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this novel when I read it back in high school and I'm reading it to my husband now and I still love it. I liked the totally unique take on the post-apocalyptic world Boyett created where magical beings emerged from the shadows and technology ceased to function. The rules had changed...and unicorns could not only talk, Ariel actually cusses! LOL! It's a wonderful story of fantasy, friendship, survival and battling the odds. In fact, I loved this book so much, it's where I got ...more
It took me a while, but I finally finished Ariel, by Steven R. Boyett.

As the story begins, six years ago the world underwent a Change.  At least, no one's said anything about the world outside the US, but since no one seems to have come along and tried to colonize the country from a stronger base the presumption is that it was a global thing.  At 4:30 one afternoon, everything mechanical stopped working, from battery-operated watches to cars to telephones to guns.  And for various reasons lots o
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the mash-up
Recommended to Alan by: I was a teenager, and still unicorn-friendly, the first time; 'nuff said
Just another story of a kid and his foul-mouthed unicorn, at least these days... but when it originally came out back in 1983, Ariel was a small treasure, a groundbreaking step in the reimagining of fantasy tropes that has since become such a major industry, and I loved it. The 2009 edition has only been slightly retconned (retroactively updated for continuity); Boyett explains why that is, in a brief Author's Note and an extensive Afterword (which is, to my mind, a major selling point of this e ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Interesting little book. It's an odd sort of dated post apocalypse (if you can call it an apocalypse) book. The "Change" took place a few years ago and the story depends on a world where libraries still have card catalogs...smoking is more common..the Trade Towers still stand and a few other things.

I found the story, "okay". It was a little disappointing with lightly drawn characters who often behave in an illogical manner (view spoiler)
Jennifer Connolly
If you like SM Stirling's Change novels, you'll probably like Ariel as it seems Stirling cribbed heavily from this book in order to come up with his own "Change".

There are just as many inconsistencies in Boyett's book about how the Change works, but it is mostly easy to ignore. What's nice is it isn't loaded with all of the remarkably favorable coincidences that appear in Stirling's Dies the Fire (and presumably his other Change books in that same series, that I refuse to read).

Boyett's book is
1983 cover
Ye Original 1983 Cover, versus darker 2009 version.
My, how our future visionings have changed.

First Line: I was bathing in a lake when I saw the unicorn.
I'd recommend this book for mature-ish 15/16 year old boys. It's gory and sex-filled. However, it reads better if you think of Pete as a 16 year old boy rather than a 20 year old. It doesn't quite qualify as Young Adult, but it comes close. Pete is a good Young Adult hero, what doesn't make it Young Adult is the length, sex and gore. The writing style even puts it at borderline Young Adult.

I'm pretty sure I just read a 400 page metaphor for a boy going through puberty; either that or it's a 400
Wayne Baxter
Dec 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sci Fi/Fantasy
What I love most about this book is the interaction Steven Boyette creates between the main characters Ariel and Pete Garey. These two banter about as life long companion while the world around them are in awe he travels with a unicorn. It still pains me in the end when Garey loses Ariel, though I no longer curse the woman who took away this privilege.
I also like books in which the mythical/mystical somehow affect the real world, I guess this stems from my D&D days as a kid.
There are two
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
Read the "restored" reissue (2009) edition. I found the protagonist, Pete, a compelling character -- a 20-year-old loner wandering post-apocolyptic America-- an honest and original young man finding his way in the big, strange world of adults and serious consequences. (He cries alot, oddly. But that touch of anti-machismo perfectly suits him. So rarely do male authors let their male lead characters just have a good, honest cry!) This should be unsurprising, considering the author wrote this at 1 ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ariel... Oh how I love this book! I picked this book up off of a display at the book store because I liked the cover. I had never heard of it or Steven Boyett. I read what it was about and was interested right away.

Because I usually do not purchase books, I spend about a week trying to find it at our local libraries. I couldn’t wait to read it.

Unicorns are real?!?! WHAT! and magic really exists! I am hooked already. I love the badassness the main character brings. Wielding a Samurai sword, fig
S. K. Pentecost
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't take the coming apocalypse too deadly seriously
There is a re-release of the original Inglorious Basterds with an extra feature tacked on where Quentin Terantino (suspiciously jittery and coked up looking,) unwittingly insults the polite old Italian man who directed the original by listing all of the things that sucked so gloriously about the Italian movie.

My review of this book would go something like that.

I love this brilliantly imagined, 70's kung fu disaster of a book precisely because of its unselfconscious suckery.

Don't dig too deep. Do
May 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I fucking hate unicorns, turns out, so this book was a bit of a challenge. Though if you ignore the unicorn, it is a smooth/fun enough read, the world-building is missing a few important details. Ah well. This book is important to post-apocalyptic lit for two other reasons: it was an inspiration for SM Stirling's Change/Emberverse series, and it is one of the very few magical apocalypses out there.
Tanya Simon
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
this book, wow! First, I was horrified by what was happening to us all, then Bam! I am in a love story, so hopeless it breaks your heart, then I was tossed into a quest novel, with a little action, suspense and angst! The book was a roller coaster ride, that haunted me. I re-read books until I need new copies, but I have to space re-readings of Ariel out, because it is so beautifully heartbreaking.
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
cool concept and there's some great stuff here but i just couldn't get beyond the fact that this was basically a coming of age tale about a dude who wants to have sex with a unicorn
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Unconventional post-apocalyptic story where one of the protagonists is a unicorn.
Very bloody/gorey, quite vulgar and pretty imaginative.

Pete Garey, you're a stupid fucking cunt.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book looked really interesting and I have read good things about it so I decided to give it a go. It was an enjoyable read, although there are a few things in the book which irked me a bit. This book was originally released in the early 80's and this is a re-release of it.

This story takes place in the post-Change world of the United States. The Change happened one day and suddenly all electricity/technology stopped working and magical creatures began roaming the earth. Humanity was left to
Alisa Kester
Okay...this book was...different. First off, I absolutely, totally adore end-of-civilization-type novels where most of humanity is killed off in some sort of plague/disaster, and the survivors wander the desolated streets, trying to scavenge supplies. I don't know why this scenario hits such a chord with me, but there really is no other type of fiction I find so...appealing. Ariel has lots of this. Unfortunately, civilization is destroyed in a completely illogical way that makes no sense. Everyt ...more
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
“As the author says in his afterward, this is the kind of book that first-time readers of a certain age (teenager/early 20s) will love. I can totally see what he means by that. It's a coming-of-age novel, in a world where dragons and manticores live, where our modern technology has died, and where Pete and his unicorn Ariel fight to survive.

There's a lot here that people could really get into. The fantasy aspect is solid, with sword-and-sorcery popping up everywhere. And there's also a good dea
Nov 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was horrible. The ending is pretty good but everything up to the last 20 pages is awful. The main character makes bad choice after bad choice.

I'm not into the apocolyptic everyone that survives is evil thing anyway. Every civilization started some where but they all became civilizations not anarchies.

Just exactly why had the residents of his little neighborhood become marauding bandits within 4 hours of a power outage anyway? Mabye in the author's mind he explained this but i
Michael Haydel
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I picked up Ariel for about $1 at a local Half Price Books, along with Desolation Road, after hearing about both of them via Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing.

I was really excited to give fiction another go, and I knew that of the two, Ariel sounded more appealing to me. So, I tackled Desolation Road first, and failed. I got about 160 pages in, and just couldn't do it. So, I took a bit of a break from fiction, read two non-fiction books, and then decided to try my hand at Ariel.

It went a lot better.

Apocalyptic fiction meets fantasy. The protagonist journeys up the Eastern Coast of a changed United States. No guns, no electricity since "The Change" happened five years prior. Oh, and also magical creatures are the norm in this new world . . . but not _that_ much of the norm, because our hero has a unicorn friend named Ariel and the baddies want to get their hands on her power (the horn, guys, its magical).

Obviously I HAD to read this book. But it is rather juvenile, I am afraid. And sexist
Roger Eschbacher
Very readable yet, ultimately, unsatisfying. Set in current times after "the change" (when virtually all but the most primitive technology stops working and magical creatures start showing up), Ariel features a dull and wimpy main character who teams up with a talking unicorn to battle an evil necromancer.

Elegy Beach, the sequel is MUCH better and definitely recommended.

Little is done to explain anything at all about The Change -- it just happened and we should get over it, apparently -- and th
Oct 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Part fantasy epic, part post-apocolyptic science fiction, part bildungsroman, part American road trip. A cross between The Last Unicorn, The Neverending Story, and The Stand. The protagonist's voice didn't ring true to me at first, but I was hooked by his relationship with the unicorn Ariel. Maybe I should have put bildungsroman first, actually; Pete goes from "annoying little shit" to "person I would probably tolerate", but despite my personal dislike for him, I enjoyed reading about his growth ...more
Mr. DeLay
Mar 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I had never heard of this book until I stumbled onto it's sequel "Elegy Beach" in the library and suddenly I was in a world of unicorns and magic. The idea of "Ariel" is that for whatever reason (it's never really explained which I love) the world suddenly stopped being real. Technology, weapons, electricity and just about everything man created that moved, whistled and beeped no longer works.

Guns don't work. You can load it and fire it. Nothing happens. The titular character of this book
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Steven R. Boyett is the author of Ariel, Elegy Beach, Mortality Bridge, Fata Morgana (with Ken Mitchroney) and numerous stories, articles, comic books, and screenplays.

As a DJ he has played clubs, conventions, parties, Burning Man, and sporting events, and produces two of the world’s most popular music podcasts: Podrunner and Groovelectric.

Steve has also been a martial arts instructor, professiona

Other books in the series

Change (2 books)
  • Elegy Beach