I know I know, this isn’t the review I promised. I got sidetracked from Changes when I realized that it was almost the end of the month and I hadn’t read any sci-fi yet. The sci-fi challenge is really the only one with deadlines, since it specifically said one each month for a year, rather than just twelve in a year.
Anyways when I was home for Christmas my mom had a pile of books that were to go back to the used bookstore because she had doubles of them. One was Power Play the third in the trilogy, which I grabbed because hey, free books. Then I stole the other two, (she’ll probably get them back if only because I don’t have room on my shelves for books that aren’t mine) and decided that it would make a good start to the sci-fi challenge.
Powers That Be is the first in this trilogy by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, I’ve never read anything by the latter and I wasn’t really a big fan of the former before, but then I hadn’t read anything by her since grade school. That summer I decided to read all the Dragon Riders of Pern books, my mom is a huge fan of hers she had whatever was out then. I think I was too young and didn’t get a lot of what was going on since usually I like the same books as my mom and there have also been a lot of times when I went back to books I read as a kid and was surprised at how different my take on them is now.
The book takes place on the planet Petaybee and is mainly from the point of view of Yanaba Maddock, a newcomer who’s sort of retired for medical reasons and sort of charged with spying on the locals to figure out all the weird stuff that’s been going on. Yanna works for The Company, and has pretty much her whole life so even though she got put on disability she doesn’t have bad feelings towards them, though she doesn’t always think much of her superiors. The Company basically owns the planet, they terraformed it and settled people on it, but now generations later they’re finding these people less than cooperative. From space they’ve taken readings that indicate there’s minerals they’d love to get their hands on, but every time they go look for them their people go missing, or die, or go crazy or end up far older than they went out there. There have also been sightings of a bunch of weird animals. Since everything on Petaybee should have been put there by the Company they want to know who’s been messing around.
The guy in charge of the base there is pretty suspicious of the people of Petaybee, but Yanna doesn’t really think much of him anyways, and the locals are all nice and welcoming so she remains pretty neutral when she goes in. That doesn’t last long though. She tries to stay suspicious, or at least keep an eye out for suspicious stuff, but the locals quickly start winning her over, especially Sean who’s the love interest.
Yanna’s relationship with Sean is actually the thing that annoys me the most about this book. It’s not even that I don’t like Sean’s character, I do. But whenever she’s around him she’s so out of character, and all mushy and annoying. But that might just be a pet peeve of mine rather than a problem with the story. I don’t mind romance in books, but the kind of love almost at first sight thing that she has going irks me. I like to see it develop more than just have them hit it off right away with no real obstacles.
Otherwise I liked the book, it’s not often that books have an arctic setting so it was fun to see how she dealt with obstacles that don’t usually come up in stories. The people of Petaybee are very much a part of their world; because the planet isn’t really used for much, and the space base doesn’t care much about the locals, they’ve had to manage on their own. They live off the land and only end up buying bare necessities like pots and such from the Company store. They also care a lot about their roots. The Company took people from earth who they believed would do well in the planet’s harsh climate, so they grabbed people of Irish and Inuit descent. The current generation is a hodge-podge of those two cultures, which you can really see in their songs. I really enjoyed how much thought she put into developing the people on Petaybee.
In contrast we learn very little about Yanna. Besides the incident which left her lungs barely functioning and put her on disability, (which was a big turning point in her life) all we really know is that she’s a Company employee and has been most of her life. Despite that it wasn’t like she didn’t have any personality or was unlikeable, and a couple times I ended up laughing at her attempts to figure out life in the town which was so much different from on a ship. I also liked that she didn’t just blindly follow orders or try and reason away everything that she was seeing, like her superiors. Most of the ‘bad guys’ in this book are really just people so set in their ways that they can’t accept what’s going on.
All in all I’m looking forward to reading the next one Power Lines, and it will fit nicely into February for the sci-fi challenge. I’ll probably read the third one in February too, so I’ll have to find something else for March.
I’m hoping to get a start on some of the other challenges too in February. I’m going to visit my sister in England, (my starting point is Canada) and I usually get a lot of reading done on long flights since the seats aren’t really comfortable for sleeping. Also I really will get around to Changes again!