Friday, June 7, 2013

Book review: Children of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

Goodreads: “Edie Sha’nim believes she and her bodyguard lover, Finn, could find refuge from the tyranny of the Crib empire by fleeing to the Fringe worlds. But Edie’s extraordinary cypherteck ability to manipulate the ecology of evolving planets makes her far too valuable for the empire to lose. Recaptured and forced to cooperate—or else she will watch Finn die—Edie is shocked to discover the Crib’s new breed of cypherteck: children. She cannot stand by while the oppressors enslave the innocent, nor can she resist the lure of Scarabaeus, the first world she tried to save, when researchers discover what appears to be an evolving intelligence.

But escape—for Edie, for Finn, and for the exploited young—will require the ultimate sacrifice … and a shocking act of rebellion.”

Someone mentioned on my Song of Scarabaeus review that the cover was pretty bad. It was, and this one is only a bit better, I think, partly because they didn’t attempt to include a cheesy tagline like “Never submit.” Anyway, I liked this sequel for a few reasons. The two books were plotted well: the first established an arc which would be continued in this, the sequel, but it also resolved a major first part of the story and didn’t end in a huge cliffhanger. There would have been loose ends, but it could have stood alone. The sequel actually could function similarly: the learning curve for the technical jargon in this universe would probably not be too different from how it functioned in the first book, and there was enough backstory provided throughout the book for the reader to — I believe — understand what’s going on. A lot of the time, authors try to solve the “sequel problem” by doing a “previously on…” style infodump toward the beginning. Creasy didn’t really do that here, to my recollection, but rather scattered the “previously” information where it was relevant. So the pacing was kept consistent, with a plot that picked up the mantle of the established arc and resolved it, while the conclusion tied back into the first novel in an unexpected way.

One of my complaints about the first book was that we didn’t get a lot of background on the universe itself — what exactly is the Crib? etc. Children of Scarabaeus mostly resolved that, with background on the war between the Crib and Fringe planets, and further insight into the political motivations behind the whole mission that Edie is involved with. So my world-building itch was scratched. The characterization remained fairly static, though the romance was sweet and finally came to fruition. It was nicely handled, I think, in that while their dedication to each other’s safety was a major concern throughout, the romance itself wasn’t heavy-handed and didn’t overpower the story; however it played an important role in the conclusion. So the sci-fi types get their mostly sci-fi story, and the romance types get their dramatic conclusion.

Overall, I think this was a nice duet of books, and a nice intersection between harder sci-fi and romance. It’s right up my alley, so I may be inherently biased by the genre, but for me the two were a fun read and a satisfying story.

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