And it was fantastic.
Author: Berthold Gambrel
This book, while filled with excitement and plenty of action, should fulfill anyone’s requirements for cleanliness. Part of this is just that the people and characters are real instead of “morally gray” monsters.
I hate giving spoilers in indie book reviews, but for this one must. It’s also now a few years old, so should be fine.
WOW. If you’re looking for a quick read with a lot of feeling, this is a really good book to enter. The universe is as deep as space, and the plot(s) are compelling, but what really drives this book is the characterization.
Let me delve into the plot caveat right quick, and then I’ll get back to why the characters were so great.
In this book, there were essentially two plotlines: one in the first half of the book, and the other in the second half of the book. At first I was skeptical of this because it felt like the first half could have been stand alone as a novelette. There were two entirely separate plot structures to the halves, and each had a similar ending in how the main character’s situation had changed. And, after finishing the book, the two halves probably could have been sold separately, but they work better together. I believe the two halves were meant to be compared and contrasted.
Theresa Gannon is the mentee of Captain Hartman. This relationship is much deeper and better than most relationships between officers you see on TV (and way better than what you’d see in, say Star Trek). There’s a very platonic mentor-mentee relationship, and yet you can feel the tight connection and love between them. Hartman and Gannon speak to each other like real people, and yet what can drive them apart is exactly what brought them together in the first place: military order.
After the events of the first half, Captain Hartman goes away physically, but she remains a psychological force for Gannon. Gannon thinks about Captain Hartman often when she interacts with Conley, a lieutenant under her, and with Nathalie, a young student at the Nightingale Station Academy. At this point, holy crap do the foils set in. It’s a fantastic, rich comparison of characters and relationships. Dig back into your high school English knowledge, my friends, because we’re about to get into the spoilers with gusto.
5/5 Discoball Snowcones
Captain Hartman had been an excellent mentor to Gannon. The Hartman in the first half serves as a great foil for Gannon in the second half, and not just because Gannon tries to emulate her. Hartman’s trust, which Gannon mistreated accidentally in the first half by following the orders of charismatic Colonel Adams, shows up in the second half as Gannon’s trust of her new mentees.
Conley, who was placed as a Lieutenant under the newly promoted Captain Gannon, should be in a position to receive Gannon’s training. Gannon herself sees this similarity between herself and the plucky Conley, and she tries to be a good mentor. She’s patient with Conley as she teaches things she’s learned through experience, and she very carefully tries to not lash out despite being on edge after the battle on Mars. Gannon also finds a mentee in the form of Nathalie, a 15 year old student at the academy who tries to break through Gannon’s security team and measure for what I like to call “funsies.” She tries to nurture Nathalie through a potential spot of trouble and encourage her to use her incredible intelligence for good. They form a relationship somewhere between mentor-mentee and parent-child, which was interesting and good.
Nathalie and Conley, however, are foils to the Gannon of the first half of the book as well as foils to each other. Whereas Gannon herself was split on how to handle Colonel Adams and his false warnings about Hartman’s loyalty, Conley and Nathalie have no inner conflicts. Conley represents the half of Gannon that had followed Adams, and Nathalie represents the half of Gannon that wanted to stay with Hartman. The way Conley becomes cruel and traitorous represents what Gannon hates within herself, the actions that Gannon feels guilty about, and Gannon’s trapping Conley out of the elevator and out of the elevator was (at least somewhat) a sign of her moving on. It was a symbol that Gannon was finally breaking away from the half of herself that followed Adams and selecting who she would be.
Conley’s betrayal also had implications for the way the chain of command was played by Adams to get what he wanted. Just like he’d done with Gannon, Adams had convinced Conley to play her superior officer. Conley brought the story of the first half of the book full circle to the second half. While Gannon saved Mars by her quick thinking in part 1 and Nightingale Station in part 2, her change of position from mentee to mentor and from inferior to superior officer keeps Hartman’s influence alive throughout the whole book.
Nathalie, who was young and impressionable, continued to follow Gannon through to the end of the book. She represented the relationship Gannon wished she’d maintained with Hartman. By choosing this relationship over Conley’s, I believe Gannon successfully repudiates her “betrayal” of Hartman. By choosing to stick with her mentee despite it all, Gannon shows that she took the lessons of Hartman and that Hartman had always seen that spark and goodness within her.
What I’m Reading Next:
I’ve got some things to catch you guys up on! We’re going with The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to get a little further through that good ol’ Amazon’s 100 Books to Read Before You Die that I do every year.
Chel, I’m on the wait list for Cat’s Cradle at my library. I’ll read that when it comes in!