Warchild [3/5]
by Karin Lowachee
(Warner Aspect, April 2002)

Perhaps best (if simply) described as a coming of age story set against a backdrop of interstellar war, assassination and spycraft, I’d been wanting to read this book for some time. With the author up for the Campbell award this year, I was even more intrigued. Overall, though, I’d have to say that the story didn’t quite live up to the hype other readers had been giving me.

I certainly found it an easy read in terms of the writing style and prose. The world-building, while it held little that was new, was, at least, admirably consistent. Additionally, I felt the protagonist (Jos) brought an interesting perspective to the story on the effects of war from all its many and varied sides. It really focused well on the idea that it can be difficult to figure your own loyalties, let alone those of others. And that it’s hard to ever really truly go home again once you’ve left. And Jos leaves every home he has just as it’s beginning to seem comfortable to him.

That said, while Jos’ situation(s) provided for insight into a world where nothing was ever as simple as it appeared, the character himself never seemed to rise to meet the challenges in a constructive fashion. Perhaps his history – orphaned, abused, lost – might justify some of his behavior but his attitude made it difficult for me to perceive him as a sympthetic protagonist. His loyalties were too easily swayed; his tendencies too self-destructive and self-pitying. If he’d grown beyond it by the end of the book, perhaps I’d have forgiven him all of it, but I really didn’t feel that was the case. He came across as irrevocably immature and left me little hope that he would see the error of his ways.

If you enjoy straightforward space adventure leavened with a few moral lessons, you might find this an entertaining read. Despite its evident merits, though, I’m afraid it won’t make my top ten list of books read this year.

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