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In a word: disappointing.
on 22 April 2013
Fire Season is the second Stephanie Harrington novel, the new YA series from David Weber. I thoroughly enjoyed A Beautiful Friendship, so reading Fire Season was a no-brainer. I knew that Jane Lindskold was on board for co-writing duties, and I questioned how this would effect the novel, and how different it could be in tone and style to A Beautiful Friendship. Turns out the answer wasn't what I hoped for, and Fire Season marked a change in both style and storytelling.
With Sphinx entering the end of its long Summer, the forests of the planet are ripe for fires. Stephanie and Climbs Quickly are Forest Rangers, travelling with a more experienced partner and helping where possible. While on one of these excursions, Climbs Quickly identifies the calls of some Treecats in peril, and swiftly alerts Stephanie, guiding her to their location in order to help them. And this is just the start of the Fire Season...
I'm not going to say much else about the story in Fire Season because it's all in the title. Fires rage, Stephanie and Climbs Quickly respond where they can, and Treecats are rescued. Add in a few smaller plot threads - an off-world scientific team studying the Treecats, Stephanie's relationships - and that's Fire Season for you.
To be honest, I'm disappointed. I really thought that there was so much potential after reading A Beautiful Friendship, and while their were glimpses of it in Fire Season, it really didn't live up to expectations.
The major downside to Fire Season, when compared to A Beautiful Friendship, is the prose and style. I really don't know how much of this novel was written by each author, and while I thought there were times I could see Weber's writing, it feels flat. While the first novel was aimed (or at least written) at an older YA audience, Fire Season seems to be undecided as to its target audience. There some times, like most of the the day-to-day incidents that plague Stephanie (i.e. boy issues, friendships, etc), where it's written towards a very young crowd, while at others (like the scientific party discussions) are clearly above such a readership. With no consistency in the writing, Fire Season fails at delivering a gripping and exciting story.
It's such a shame, because their is huge potential here for some truly interesting and exciting stories. Perhaps the subject matter of this one limited the scope, or perhaps Weber & Lindskold were adjusting to working together on a novel. Either way, I've come away unsure whether or not to try the next novel, Treecat Wars. I'm interested in it, but I'm also worried it will be the last Stephanie Harrington novel I read....