Originally posted on my LiveJournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/21277.html
Read For: The Women of Science Fiction book club
So, as you can see, this book was a book club read. I've never really heard about Elizabeth Moon before, but she was a named I recognized; I work at a book store and you just pick up author names. Her books never really caught my attention though, and I've never really read reviews of them anywhere, so I had no idea what to expect from this book when I started. (I *did* think the cover was kind of pretty though.) Basically, I had no expectations, which isn't a bad way to go into a book.
Well, it's probably good I didn't have any expectations, because they might have been squandered by this slow-paced book, but, *because* I had no hopes to squander, this ended up not being THAT bad either.
This book is possibly unique in the fact that it's a science-fiction novel centered on elderly person as the protagonist. I have never seen this done before in science-fiction, so right off the bat I was kind of intrigued. Also, Ofelia isn't some wise, all-knowing elderly person: she's forgetful, impatient at times and physically debilitated. Overall though, she seemed like a very likable lady; she's willing to help where she can, and she's obviously resourceful, as she manages to survive on a planet, alone, for years.
I liked the People (the indigenous population that lives on the planet) and I liked watching their relationship with Ofelia. At first, I was confused as to why they weren't killing her when they first find her, seeing as how readily they killed the other humans who crossed their path. We find out later WHY they killed those people so readily though, and why they come to like and respect Ofelia. Watching Ofelia take care of them and teach them new things was nice too. I thought it very apt how she thought of them as children (though she recognized they were children who could very easily kill her), and because she had that mentality, she was able to do what she does best (or maybe second best, next to gardening): be a mother.
I do have to say though, this book was slooowwww. Not especially *long*, but the pace was almost brutally slow. It's just the kind of book it is. And I mean, none of it is *horrible* -- it's all quite bearable -- but I did find myself skimming quite a bit. I was still reading, but not taking my time with it, because it wasn't vital information.
Also, the other people who come to observe The People were all... dumb. I did like how Moon had a few chapters from one of their points-of-view, because I think she was trying to give us insight into HOW and WHY these people didn't feel like they were the ones in the wrong, and watching Ofelia from their point-of-view did paint quite a different picture of how, but dear god were they stupid. They constantly shun and don't trust Ofelia when she was literally a land-mine of information for them, if only they would be more kind and cooperative. Because of them, this story fell a bit into "civilization vs. natives" (I don't think that's a very apt way of putting it, but I'm tired, so please forgive me D:), which is a little stereotypical, but it never went crazy with it, so I was glad for that.
The ending of the story was very fitting, if not a little predictable, but I was all right that.
Final Verdict: I'm not too sure how I feel about this book. I guess you could encapsulate it with the word "meh". I didn't dislike, but it's definitely not one of my favorite books ever. Ofelia's a good person, and a character you can't help but root for (she's kind of surrounded by assholes), but she was only really memorable in that she was an elderly character in a science-fiction novel, something I've never seen done before (though I think it was handled well -- just didn't rivet me, y'know?) The story was all right as well, but it was ssllllooowww, and thus I found myself skimming quite a bit. However, except for the slow pace, there's nothing really WRONG with this novel. It just didn't blow my mind or anything. I'm thankful I borrowed it from the library instead of buying it.