Yesterday I posted a review on goodreads ( you can read it here ) stating that is my first novel by Lois McMaster and adding how I didn't know much about this author when I picked it up. Well, that is all still true. Yesterday, I did some reasearch on Lois McMaster Bujold (and I learned to pronounce her name so yaaay for that) and the more I got to know the most I felt like I was missing out on great writing. At this point, I feel saddened by the fact that I have read only novel by her so far.
I still don't know anything about Vorkosigan saga nor did my knowledge about this author greatly improve, but I'm determined to learn more and read more of her works. I will probably do a bit more research on her and the Vorkosigan saga because it all sounds mighty interesting to me. Let's get back to talking about this novel that I loved so much ( I happen to think it deserved the prize it got). Since writing my review on goodreads, I became more interested in the saga and now I plan to read it. However, my opinion of this novel is still the same so what you're about to read is more or less the review as it was originally posted. In any case, this review will focus solely on this novel and explore it as such. My focus with this review is the novel itself and what I believe are its literary merits.
Let's get to reviewing part, shall we? Saying that I really liked this novel is kind of an understatement but the reason why I’m giving it four and not five stars is that I like to keep five stars for those novels that really changed my life. This one didn’t feel life-changing to me nor did I have a sensation of having my mind completely blown away…. what it felt like was a great novel. …really brilliant piece of writing!
I really do feel like singing praises to this novel because I really think that it is great, its characters are incredibly well developed and the plot is bullet proof. As a story, it is a page turner! I enjoyed reading it so much. As a SF novel, it is everything I love about this genre. The very reason why I love SF so much is that it often explores the most complex questions of our existence, the philological and moral dilemmas that lie deep in our soul.
This novel has really gone into depth, into what makes us human, what makes us moral or immoral. In addition, I liked how it showcased that making a moral decision can be incredibly difficult and seriously challenging. That all being said, it still managed to be such an exciting story. It is action packed and keeps you on your toes, all that while managing to contain a real message and feeling of profoundness? Did I manage that the characters feel so alive that it impossible not to love them and feel deeply for them? If that doesn’t make it a fantastic read, what is a fantastic read? If this isn’t a great novel, what is a great novel?
I would even go so far as to say that I can’t imagine an average SF fan not liking this novel. As soon as I started reading it, I had that warm feeling inside that good science fiction always grants me. Sure, we all have different tastes and I’m sure that there are people who won’t fall madly in love with this one, but it just seemed to me that it is a novel worth liking. Not that you should like it, I mean we live in a free world or at least that is where we should be living.
I just have this idea in my head of it being likeable because I don’t see it as having any weak points. The story is great, the writing is very good and it flows naturally with the story. Yes, the writing isn’t exactly poetic but for this kind of story it need not be. It is logical, well organized and it works with the story not against it.
Where does the main literary merit of this novel lie? I’m kind of divided on that one. I would say it has two main strongpoints: its focus on ethics (it presents very credible ethical dilemma and explores it wonderfully) and its characterisation (the protagonist is masterfully portrayed and the author even managed to make a whole new species look credible- no easy task at any rate).
My final thoughts?
This is an amazing SF novel, among the best that this genre has to offer. I immensely enjoyed reading it. I can’t find any flaws with it whatsoever and I consider it to be an exceptional piece of writing. That all being said, I didn’t feel that special connection with it, that feeling of having my soul stripped bare but that sensation only happened a few times in my life, so that doesn’t make this novel a lesser one. It is not one of those novels that changed my life, but it felt like a great piece of writing nevertheless.
I’m as certain as I can possibly be that this novel deserves to be praised.
|photo taken from my instagram account, originally published yesterday @modaodaradosti|