Thursday, October 23, 2008

Review: Orphans of Chaos

Orphans of Chaos (kindle edition) starts off deceptively like The Golden Compass or many other such young-adult novels --- a teenage narrator (told very pleasantly in first person by a young and beautiful girl named Amelia) says matter-of-factly that it took her and her friends a while to discover that they weren't really human.

The rest of the novel revolves around the exploration of what these young people really are, and the process by which they find out that the English boarding school that they are in aren't really what it seems. They discover that they have special powers, but interpret them in completely different ways (Amelia sees everything in terms of Einsteinian Physics, but her friend might see the same phenomena as being caused by fairies).

Two things, however, make this not quite the typical young adult novel. First is the prevalence of sexual motives and suggestiveness --- there are several scenes that might have come right out of some fantasy erotica novel, rather than a science fiction or fantasy novel. That's how explicit it gets. Secondly, in young adult novels, the protagonists change and grow. That's pretty much the point of a YA novel. But John C. Wright chose to reset everything at the end of the novel right back to the state that they were in in the beginning. This feels quite a bit like cheating --- unless the next novel resumes and doesn't waste time explaining everything we learned in this one (fat chance of that), it's going to make this novel feel like a wasted novel.

The writing is not bad, competently done, with all the allusions to Greek mythology handled very well and in an intelligent fashion. But the above two problems left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that I cannot think that I will pay money to read the rest of the series. (I got the novel for free during the tor.com ebook promotion)
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