After reading the series through Patriarch's Hope, I reflected back on them all, and this book is the one that stuck with me. It's been awhile since I read it, but, since it's the one that I remember most, I felt I should write a review.
It is a completely original storyline. The introduction of new characters from Pook and Changman of the trannies, to Seafort's brilliant son, Phillip, really added new dimension to the series. I needed a break from Seafort and his guilt trip, this did it.
Seaforts' son, Phillip, chases after his freind into the streets of NY. The only people living on the streets now are "trannies". These people are the forgotten throwaway's of a society that has since moved onward and upward into the skyscrapers and away from the city. Only heavily armed patrols ever venture into the streets, and then, only if absolutely necessary. Basically, the streets are left alone and ignored, and barred from the rest of the "civilized" world. Once there, your on your own...and don't expect any help, cuz it aint coming.
It's into this world that Phillip now finds himself...and it's a fascinating world. There are gangs, and subcultures that have arisen out of survival instincts. How they exist together, and the society they have developed, knowing that no one gives a damn about them, is remarkable. There is ingenuity, violence, power grabs, treaties, bravery, and a surprisingly large amount of humor...probably not enough love, but, it is there also. It's a darwinian survival of the fittest society...and it's damned interesting.
Phillips obvious genius, coupled with some handy martial arts instruction he had as a child, helps him survive in this environment. He meets up with Changman, a "neutral" trader, who trades with all the gangs equally...so as not to piss of any in particular. Changman is the real interesting character in this story. He has many secrets, and is one of the more multi-dimensional personalities in the HOPE series. Pook, is a child tranny, who Changman tries to look out for the best he can. There is no overt emotion or physical show of love and affection between the two. But, as much as the streets will allow, Changman tries to do his best for the kid.
Pook is a great character also. A typical street "tough" wannabe. Just a child really, but, he wants to be feared and respected. His feelings and emotions can sometimes be hilarious as he's figuring out how to be tough, especially when this "uppie" kid just kicked his butt. He's as street smart a kid as your gonna find in any story tho...and you gotta love him.
As for the "TRANNY LANGUAGE" everyone seems to be lambasting. I think that was as important to the story as any of the characters. The more I read it, the more I followed it. Along with Phillip and other "uppies." We all learned it together. It is an extremely expressive slang. That matches the conditions of the trannies perfectly. They wouldn't be Trannies if they didn't have this language. The book wouldn't have been what it was without it. I had no problem following it, and the more I read, the more descriptive I found the language to be. It's just slang, after all, not French :-). Because of how well this language was used and flushed out, it seemed totally natural and part of this world. I think the TRANNY LANGUAGE is one of Feintuch's best acheivements as an author.
There is a hilarious review using the Tranny language below mine, I think its completely understandable, and the more you read it, the less you have to think about it. I think they key, is to not think too much about it, and just lightly read over it, the meaning becomes clear. Almost every time POOK talks, using Tranny speak...I smile.
Anyway, its a fascinating book, and the best in the series, imho. Those that didn't like it, seemed to have a common problem with it...the Tranny language. I didn't have that problem and thought it was one of the best aspects of the book.
I think this could be a stand alone book. It's been over a year since I read it...but, its so different, and the characters are almost all new, you probably don't need to read the previous Hope books to enjoy it. It's amazing I remember as much of it as I do. I have difficulty remembering the TITLES of the other books in the series, let alone any story line. Yes, I recommend this one.