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Abby Boyd Lee was a character that completely blew my mind because despite all the suffering she endured and all of the heartache, she still came out on top as a strong independent woman and I have nothing but respect for her. Guizzetti wrote her beautifully and she was a believable and lovable character. In the beginning I couldn't help but be annoyed with how naive she was and how unrealistic her dreams for the future were but I realised that without her naivety the plot would have fallen apart. She dreamt of a better future for herself and made the ultimate sacrifice by leaving her family behind to travel through the stars. Unfortunately for her, not everything was quite as it seemed. She suffered trauma, loss and heartache before she found the space crew that would ultimately become her family. It took a long time for her to truly see herself as others saw her and be at peace with everything she went through.
Harden was one of my favourite characters and I couldn't help but love him, despite the fact that he barely shows any emotion besides anger and annoyance. He has suffered in different ways to Abby but like her, he came out on top. I believe this is why he forms such a sweet relationship with her. She looks to him as a father figure, always seeking his approval and in the beginning it seems that he wants nothing to do with her and despises her for even being allowed to become a part of his crew but in the end he treats her like a daughter, he protects her and tries to get her to reach her full potential. I love how this book became very much about him and Abby as opposed to being solely focused on Abby. The ending is sweet and emotional and shows a completely different side to Harden that I didn't expect.
I really loved that this book was NOT a love story, there is romance and Abby has quite a few crushes (some that are really strange) but it isn't solely based on two people falling in love and living happily ever after. Abby finds that although it was her dream to find a husband that loved her, she found something she never realised she needed. A family. Every character in this book is relevant and although they weren't always at the centre of everything and some were only mentioned briefly, they were the elements that really made this book really come to life. I loved each and every one of them.
This part of the book was really fantastic. The excitement and wonder coupled with nerves and fear are all mixed into one as Abby steps foot onto the rocket. Just the right amount of information is kept from the reader and so like Abby, you to are stepping forwards with the character into the unknown. What I particularly thought was good was the fact that though the space travellers are physically human; they seem alien as their customs, norms and values are different from Earthlings. The only query I had was of Abby's father; all along he was protective of his children and yet only put up a 2 minute resistance to his children leaving for Kipos. The parting seemed very quick for characters which share such a strong bong.
When on Kipos the land of opportunity seems anything but. All the siblings are separated as Abby is sold as a 'bond' to a family, headed by Dr. Barnett and she soon learns of her purpose; to become a surrogate mother. She is raped and abused until she bears the child and becomes no further use to the family. I must admit the opening parts of the books seemed to be aimed at a young audience; the moment Abby steps on Kipos it matures quite dramatically which though not a bad thing, it seemed out of sync with the earlier part of the book.
Escaping from the clutches of the family, Abby makes it to the rocket bay, meeting a crew on board the Revelation. I was surprised she managed to make to survive the 24 hour walk, almost immediately after giving birth and 'bleeding heavily' throughout! The crew take her under their wing, training her as an exploratory biologist. This a chance for the author to throw in a bit of science, i.e. the technicalities of the ship functions coupled with the science of new species and planets. I think the right balance is reached between both fantasy and science for the average reader, it is not overly complex or heavy with details and the plot manages to entertain and sustain your interest throughout.
Abby's mission soon becomes apparent; to find a planet capable of sustaining intelligent lifeforms and ultimately planet which humans can colonize in the future. The best part of half the novel is spent during Abby's time on the Revelation; I wander with only a few references back to her old captors what the end point would be. Not that I didn't enjoy it, far from it, I assumed her captors would catch-up with her sooner or later and that she would eventually find peace with herself.
Earth, Kipos and Other Systems. Do you like what I did there? I was slightly disappointed that as a reader we didn't get to see more of Kipos; though the population is only a million and presumably urban areas are sparse, I would have like to have seen more of the planet other than the reference to the fact it has two suns. Though a Sci-Fi novel built on exploration of planets there is a lack of description during the exploration in terms of the new environments and places Abby visits. We meet a lot of new species but in terms of the environment, I felt that the reader was mainly the chemical composition of the planet rather than using words to paint a picture of this new environment in the readers head.
I loved Abby. She is a mixture of an independent, brave and honest girl with a vulnerability and loneliness about her. She is longing for a companion and someone to care for especially after the separate of both her sister Orchid and from her daughter Chi. In some ways she is unlike any other Sci-Fi character I have come across in my reading in that she is very humane and pours out emotion. She is the stand-alone main lead of the book and though I loved her I do wander whether this would appeal to a male audience.
Though the book is not narrated in the first person, it still comes across incredibly personal to the lead character. I wander whether it should have been written in the first person. Something I will come onto in the book structure section was my dislike of the parts focused on the crew of the Discovery prior to Abby's involvement with the sister ship the Revelation. If those sections were to be removed, the book could have been written in the first person, from Abby's account. I don't think it would have detracted anything from the novel or story-line as pretty much most of the book focuses on Abby herself; both her observations, actions and movements and we could have been given a back-story to the crew members during Abby's conversations with them.
This is a very well-written book in terms of both the language used and the dialogue. I thought that there was enough context and back-story without being laboured with complicated jargon.
There are many contemporary issues within the book; reproduction rights, racism, population expansion, resource shortage, poverty, homosexuality. These seemed to be very general though and not much thought was given too much as to how Earth has evolved since 2012. Though Kiplos seems quite developed, Earth seems very much to have stood-still in time, the above issues which occur today are also present in 3062 but not much time nor detail is dedicated to describe how these have changed over time.
I thought splitting the book into 'parts' worked well; each section moved to a different scene in the story. As stated previously, I didn't like the portions of the book focused on the Discovery prior to Abby's involvement, in the Prologue and in Part 2. I thought they didn't add anything major to the story and any details found out about characters or Kilos could have been added elsewhere in the novel.
Overall, for the average reader I think this book pretty much hits the nail on the head; it is an interesting and entertaining plot, not over-burdened with too many facts or detail and portrays a much more humane element in the Sci-Fi genre. In that sense, I think the book will appeal to a much wider audience and indeed makes the genre more accessible. That said, for Sci-Fi lovers, I don't think there is enough science facts or supporting evidence that such fans seek. Speaking as an average reader, I highly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it! 3.5* Stars.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I really liked the undertones of politics of the populations of Kipos and the idea that a Utopian society might not have great morals. This subplot reminded me very much of The Giver, one of my favorite sci-fi books. Indeed, many aspects of Guizzetti's work gives it a feeling of Dystopian Sci-fi, which is one of my favorite genres and was a real pleasure to discover.
The book is a long one, so strap yourself in for a read. I like long reads, so that wasn't too much of a determent for me, even though I tend to be pretty packed with my reading schedule. There were a few points in the book where a couple of editorial grammar issues took me out, but not because it's not professionally and well written. I just thought the structure could have been more concise in a few spots. The editor in me got picky.
That said, Guizzetti is a very engaging writer. Her characters stick with the reader, her descriptions are beautifully done, and the formatting is really awesome. The chapter headings and interior photos were stunning and gave the book a very sci-fi feel. This is one I picked up for the cover, but the interior matches. I will continue to read Guizzetti's future work and imagine she will soon draw fans to her.
The Kipos colony, at a considerable distance from Earth, has developed a highly controlled society made up of people who consider themselves to be superior beings. They look down on the mutated spacegoers, the Khlorosans, even though they depend on them for trade and off-planet transportation. But the we're-so-perfect Kiposi, despite their obsession with racial purity, also desperately need an influx of DNA to shore up their falling birth rate.
Recruiting original stock from Earth seems like a solution, but the Kiposi are shocked to find that the people of Earth, coping with over-population and economic pressures, don't measure up to Kiposi societal ideals. Still, they skim off the best and brightest, dangling the bait of a chance for education, a good job, a better life. Perhaps they had good intentions at first, but by the time the earthlings arrive, they're automatically second-class citizens at best, indentured servants (we don't call them slaves) with almost no rights.
Abby and her siblings are among those who pass the tests and make the trip. Abby's sister is young enough to qualify for adoption, but Abby herself, a woman of child-bearing age, is seen as breeding stock. It's cultural shock with a vengeance as Abby struggles to get answers and to cope with her situation.
Abby's a strong person, a survivor, who has to adapt to a new world while dealing with physical and emotional trauma. I won't give away details, but it seems to me that the despised Khlorosans are a lot more "human" than the Kiposi. This is an adventure story with plenty of action and suspense, narrow escapes, ominous portents, and in general enough going on to make you keep turning pages. I blame Elizabeth for my staying up far too late reading.
*If you don't want a spoiler-don't continue reading, just buy the book and enjoy it!*
The short blurb is only the beginning of what the story is really about. Abby, the main character, has it pretty rough after she makes it to Kipos. There's a weakness in her character that you pity as one bad thing after another happens to her and she just accepts it as her fate rather than fighting back. It was a bit too dark for my taste. I don't enjoy reading sexually graphic novels, but there was something about the character that kept me wanting to read, just so she wouldn't remain stuck on Kipos forever. You take on a sort of older sibling complex with wanting to protect Abby from what comes next. It's not until she escapes a quarter of the way through and finds the Revelation, that the story really begins to take a turn for the better.
After she is rescued and given a fair chance at a real life, Abby begins to discover who she really is. Through trials and tribulations she is tested, and rather than folding like she did back on Kipos, she begins to stand up for herself and take chances. Her character grows and you finally find something about her to latch onto and root for. Something every written character should have. She grows more confident in herself and begins to take control of her path and where she wants to be. Harden, the Captain of the ship, becomes a sort of father figure to her, and I believe he has a lot to do with the strength she was able to find inside herself. His rough demeanor, yet subtle, loving tendencies showed her that not everyone was a bad guy. Most importantly, not everyone was going to think she was a bad person.
Although I enjoy a stronger heroine in a novel, I rated this story four stars because through her weakness for men and her insecurities, she was able to find herself and become a stronger person. I love when a character can reach their lowest and still be able to come out on top. Her story ends as a happy one and I can easily say that the author did a great job with taking me to places I had never been, nor even dreamed about.