Friday, March 25, 2011

Book review: Song of Scarabaeus

In anticipation for Sara Creasy's sequel, which comes out March. 29, I thought I'd post this review of her awesome debut novel Song of Scarabaeus.

The gist: Edie is a biocyph, a combination of biology and cybernetics that's necessary to germinate new worlds. While on the job, she's kidnapped by space-pirates and forced to work for them. Their goal: to free the Fringe colonists from the repressive Crib government that holds a monopoly over everyone's heads. And it's not just her life on the line. The pirates link her up to a former slave, now her bodyguard, and if she tries to run, her bodyguard will die.

Pros: Now I like Edie, except for her stupid moments at the end when she tries to save everybody - sorry, but you're not superwoman. She's neither a kick-ass female nor a weak vulnerable girl; she has her strengths and weaknesses and has some really cool abilities, like being able to manipulate DNA on a cybernetic level. She is slightly passive, but considering her circumstances it's not like she could do much. She did attempt to break free and to me that says something even if she wasn't successful. I also like the allusions to music in the tech scripts, how the scripts sang their songs. That was cool.

I love the science in the book it gets into a technical level, but if you've taken a biology course it shouldn't be too hard to get. It's what makes science fiction science fiction after all. The romance is brief, but for me, I was glad it didn't derail the main plot. I honestly hate it when the romance between characters overwhelms the main point of the book.

Negs: I had my eyes rolling when some of the crew, who were originally sticking guns into Edie's side, suddenly try to be her best pals. I felt like Edie forgave them too easily just because they put a smile on. There's also a false choice at the start, where they say she can go with them or stay working for the Crib, which made no sense. Why go through the trouble of kidnapping her only to give her a choice? Plus, it was clear they were never going to let her go. Kill her, sure. But not set her free.

I also didn't care for Edie's dreams, partly because they're in present tense, and partly because they read like a prologue, except they're spread throughout the book rather than dumping it in front. I guess it's a clever way to get people to read prologues. I know the dreams are suppose to add context to Edie, but I always feel how the main character behaves in their current situation will reveal more about them than giving us a history lesson on the character. Plus, who has dreams of their past? These aren't exactly flashbacks.

Then there's Haller. I hated him so much. But not because he's the antagonist, but because he's so stupid and 2-dimensional. I honestly cannot picture a whole crew following his short-sighted plans. He constantly lets his anger get the better of him, which makes him a bad leader with very little respect. If there was some redeeming quality, I could see why they may follow him, like perhaps he's a jerk but he has brilliant strategies. Instead, he was just a doofus who demanded that everyone else to fix his problems. Luckily, he won't be coming back for the sequel.

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It has its flaws, but still enjoyable to read if you're looking for a space adventure with a touch of romance.

This review was originally posted on Amazon under my account.

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