Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beholder's Eye, by Julie Czerneda

I didn't get all the vacation reading done that I said I would. I did get to a few of those sequels, and I'll do a post about them shortly. I also discovered a couple of new authors I want to read more of. Since one of them is Canadian, and I'm sorely behind on my Canadian Book Challenge (I need 12 by July and I've got 7 so far), today's post is about sci fi writer Julie Czerneda.

I bought Beholder's Eye right before I left, because it was a paperback, my friend said it was good, and Czerneda is Canadian. (Always like to support fellow countrymen.) It turned out to be a perfect beach read: fun, interesting with cool ideas but not mind-bendingly challenging, fair bit of action but not too intense.

Beholder's Eye felt more fantasy-like to me than science fiction. (Just to be clear, this isn't a bad thing in my view.) Yes, there are space ships and space ports, but the story didn't depend on technology in any way. Esen-Alit-Quar is a being who can shift shapes into any species she has "acquired." Faced with a threat to her own existence and to all the life she has encountered, Esen has to decide whether to keep the rules about not exposing her identity, or to risk her own species in helping the others. It's really a coming-of-age story set in a number of fun alien worlds, and a story of friendship and loyalty, using two species as metaphors for the things that keep us from trusting one another. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to YA readers, and to fantasy readers who want to try out science fiction.

This book is a stand-alone, but there are two more books about Esen-Alit-Quar. I'm curious to see how her relationship with the human Ragem develops in the next two books. But my library has the three books in her Stratification cycle, which looks promising, and her latest, which is fantasy and also looks very good (there are giant toads: I think it's a must-read!). So I'm not sure which one I'll try next.

Beholder's Eye is like the tostadas we had in Mexico: lots of different flavours layered on top of crunchy goodness.

For more Canadian books to try, in all genres, check out John Mutford's blog, The Book Mine Set.

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