Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: Spacer and Rat

I already mentioned this title a couple of weeks ago when I did that post about problems in science fiction and if anyone is wondering no, this isn't the last sci-fi title I have left to review this summer (which hopefully won't be seen as a bad thing). I think this story is supposed to very loosely use the theme of Treasure Island (one character is named John, another Silver, they team up at one point to find a treasure of sorts) which really made me roll my eyes, first The Seven Samurai on Mars and now Treasure Island on a space station? Especially since this was the example from that list where one of the characters had no idea you could have bodies of water larger than a hydroponics tank.....

Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard

 I found the title really hard to read on the cover (it's a bit easier to read on the spine) which just isn't a good thing. I think the design should have been simpler to avoid this problem although I did like how the title was both horizontal and vertical (betting that a real graphic designer would hate the idea however).

Summary: Jack has lived on the space station Freedom his whole life and he's eager to be leaving it soon to see the rest of space and maybe find out more about his family. And since it never hurts to have as much money as you can, he takes a job from a patron at the bar where he works to track down a special droid, one who seems to be in the possession of an Earth "rat" that he keeps running into (Kit). 

The Good: It's unusual to see a soft science-fiction title take place entirely in space, especially on a space station instead of a privately owned space ship, and the characters certainly made use of their setting. They were running all around the station, from the hardly used chapel down to the bowels of the place, and the author even remembered to have the gravity be stronger or weaker at various places in the station, a nice touch since so many science-fiction titles just include artificial gravity in their settings. 

The Bad: While Jack and Kit have certainly had enough adventures together to have a close relationship by the end of the book something about it just felt forced to me. Maybe it was because of Jack's ultimate decision about what he wants to do* but it also didn't seem like much had changed by the end of the book. The characters are a bit more developed but they haven't changed their situations and don't seem to have any plans for what they want to do next, is that a good thing?  The book was also a bit short and, while it's length worked well for the story it told, I find myself wishing that it had told a slightly different story that had taken a bit longer to do, one that could have really worked with the setting the story had and tie up Jack's family subplot.

 Neither Jack or Kit weren't really likable characters for me (there was one character I did like but that would be a spoiler) and this book just played out a bit too predictably/safely for my taste. Guess this means I need to keep hunting around for sci-fi I actually like, I don't suppose anyone here has any really good (preferably YA but I won't be picky) sci-fi suggestions?






*which reminds me, there are enough stories where the female love interest gives up on her interests in life so she can remain close to the love interest (which people have pointed out isn't really a good message to be sending) this is the first time I've seen the positions reversed and it still seems to send the same bad message.

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