Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber

Stephanie and her xeno-veterinarian father and plant geneticist mother are colonists on the planet Sphinx in the year 1518, post diaspora.  Stephanie isn't a huge fan of their new home, with its winters that last 15 months.  But winter is finally over, and Stephanie has made a discovery.  She has found what she calls a treecat, an intelligent, native species.  Climbs Quickly and the People had decided not to let the two-legs know of their existence.  The People communicate through their minds, and humans are mind-blind.  But Stephanie and Climbs Quickly, while they can't actually talk to each other, realize that they can sense each other's emotions.  Now Stephanie will do whatever she has to to protect the treecats from humans who might do them harm.

First things first.  The cover.  Ew.  Totally retro, and not in a good way.  It's only half a step up from the cover of the ARC I have, which is also totally retro, and not in a good way.  Perhaps because it comes from a smaller publisher?  I don't know, but I'm not finding it appealing at all.

The story itself was interesting.  It was a really interesting conflict, where there's an incredibly intelligent species that because they're kind of cute and fluffy, and they don't communicate as people do, people automatically assume that Climbs Quickly is Stephanie's pet.  Stephanie doesn't want the treecats to be thought of that way, but she's also afraid of people finding out just how intelligent they are.  Some of the land on Sphinx has already been given to colonists, and what would people be willing to do if they realized that they'd lost their money because the land was found to belong to the native species?  On another planet, a native species had been completed wiped out, and Stephanie is afraid of that happening.

Many scientists have come to study the treecats, but Stephanie is very stingy with information and hasn't let on that she actually knows, and visits, Climbs Quickly's colony.  When some of the treecats start disappearing, Stephanie realizes she needs help outside herself.

Stephanie was a good character.  She's super smart, and because of this doesn't have a lot of friends her own age.  She's a very capable kid, and is prone to get into mischief.

Despite all that, I didn't really like this.  And it was because of the writing itself.  It was weird.  It felt so...simplistic.  Bland.  And not because it's a middle grade novel.  It was just totally flat.  Even when something interesting of exciting was happening, it stayed flat.  I don't know if I can explain it any better than that.  Even though I found the concept interesting, it was not interesting to read.  I have not read anything else by David Weber, so I don't know if they're all in this style.  I know his Honor Harrington series is very popular (which I assume is Stephanie when she's grown up?).  It wasn't my cup of tea.

A Beautiful Friendship comes out on October  4.

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