March 24, 2003
Book Review -- Warchild

Warchild
by Karin Lowachee
Aspect, April 2002

Wow. Okay, let me say that again. Wow.

I picked this book up in part because she's an OWW graduate. And I'd heard some really good things about it. So I started getting curious and decided I'd give it a whirl. And I'm damn glad I did.

I stayed up way too late last night because I hit the point of no return and then I still had to put it down because I just couldn't keep my eyes open. Then I was almost late this morning because I picked it up while getting read. I tucked it into my bag and during lunch break at work (which it turned out later I shouldn't have taken because Ry got sick... again...) I ran outside and enjoyed the spring air as I gobbled down the ending.

Wow.

Karin Lowachee has an interesting style. The first part is in second person -- it is difficult to read because we're just not used to seeing it. But it was intriguing the way it was presented, and I was sure it was done for a reason. Which I did figure out later.

After the first part it snaps into first person past, and then later, it switches to present tense. All the tense changes have a definite meaning, and show the story in a very different light.

The story revolves around Jos Musey, a boy whose world is destroyed when his ship is raided by pirates when he is 8, and his parents are killed. He is taken by one of the pirates, and then escapes with the alien enemy. His loyalties shift and change as he grows through learning what is right and what is wrong. The tense changes and vague descriptions show how even in first person, the main character can hide the details from himself.

This isn't an easy book to read. Jos's life is harsh, and Karin doesn't flinch from it. Rather, Jos himself ducks away from what has happened to him, couching it only in the vaguest of terms, but clearly enough that *I* knew what had happened even though he hadn't said it. Even though, in fact, he had flatly denied what others knew to be true. I thought this to be remarkably well done, showing how a person can psychologically skitter away mentally from things that they simply do not wish to remember or believe. And this was when I realized how wonderful the opening with the second person was, distancing himself from the memory and placing someone else in it, yet making them feel it. Wonderful.

The book doesn't end, yet it completes itself. It comes to a place of both beginning and closure, where the relationships are still just as tangled, and in many ways, Jos is still confused. I would love to see another book about Jos and the Warboy as they build forward into the new world that they have worked to create.

As for the rest of you, go buy this book!! And if you are nominating/voting for Hugos & the Campbell, remember her name. I know I will!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at March 24, 2003 10:31 PM | TrackBack
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