Phew. Nearly didn’t make it. Actually I am not absolutely convinced I did make it – I was planning to read Daughters of the Sunstone (a trilogy) for the YA/juvenile fiction book of Jeane‘s DogEar Reading Challenge; I thought it was juvenile fiction because when I looked it up in the library catalogue, it was shelved in the children’s section. So when December rolled around I placed a hold on it (it was checked out), and I waited and waited and waited, and it never came in, and eventually I gave up and just checked out the first book of the trilogy, Darkchild. I don’t know that I’d call it a kids’ book in real life, but on the other hand, I don’t want the challenge police to come and scold me, so a kids’ book it shall be called!
Darkchild is a sci-fi/fantasy book in which, essentially, humankind left earth eons ago and went to colonize other planets, making necessary changes to adapt to life on less friendly planets. Brakrath, where our young heroine Khira lives, is one such planet – a planet on which the ruler can use the power of the sun as she wishes. While spending a long winter alone, Khira meets a boy without a name, whom she calls Darkchild, unaware that he has been programmed (against his will, of course, or we wouldn’t like him) to collect information about her civilization, then bring it back to his programmers so they can use it to destroy the people of Brakrath and take all their valuable things.
What I loved about this book was the honesty of the characters’ dilemmas. Even after she learns what Darkchild really is, Khira is fiercely loyal to him, desperate to find a way to save him from anyone that might consider harming or destroying him. Darkchild, in his turn, grows fond of Khira and tries to fight against his programming, to access those parts of his memory that are shut off to him, and to keep his “guide” (the program in his head that protects him) in check. Their loneliness aches, and it makes their relationship very sincere.
I wasn’t as crazy about the sci-fi business. I am picky picky about my science fiction, and I found some of this confusing. Some bits were over-explained, like the race of creatures who had programmed Darkchild (Darkchild has a revelation of sorts, near the end, where he remembers how he helped his programmers to destroy cultures that had helped him – and it falls flat because this has been explained so thoroughly in the rest of the book); and some were under-explained, like the powers the barohna (the rulers of the sunstone) has, and the way everyday life goes on this world. I had a hard time getting a sense of the world, I guess, and that took me out of the book a bit. Can’t have been too bad, though, as I’m eager to read the sequels if I can get them, and see where the author takes it from here. I like it that she’s switching to different characters, as I do feel Khira and Darkchild are at a good stopping place.
Thanks to the lovely Jeane for hosting this challenge! I’d say three of these five books were a bit out of my comfort zone, and that is a good thing for me to do, read outside of my usual stuff, give different things a try and see how I find them. Like science fiction and books about food that make me want to eat cheese fries.