Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Star Scout Rising; First Trail Vol One, by Gary Darby
It seems like most science fiction I read is geared for adults - there may be adult issues and situations that wouldn't be appropriate for young teens. I think this is the first work of science fiction that I could recommend for the preteen set.
In Star Scout Rising, First Trail, the galaxy is opening up to human exploration. Some planets have been colonized and a Confederation has formed to police the ever changing space ways. The military handles human threats and the Star Scouts explore planets with life to identify and catalog the flora and fauna of those planets.
The Star Scouts are peaceful but they also know to be prepared for dangerous conditions and lifeforms. They train hard and the standards for new recruits are strict and demanding. A young man named Del, with a missing skeleton in the family closet, has a lot to prove to them and to himself. In his Scout training, he is teamed up with other intelligent and promising young people, TJ, Sami, Shanon, and Nase.
This book follows Del's team as they work on a training mission trying to catalog an elusive extraterrestrial creature in an Earth game preserve. After several near misses, the group gets increasingly anxious to "bag" the creature as this mission is their last training exercise before their No-notice Exam. When a team member is abducted by galactic poachers, Del has to decide whether to follow and try to perform a rescue or try to go for help.
There is plenty of action in the book, only one sorta slightly "mushy" scene, but no kissing (phew), and the plot had a nice twist at the end of the book, (though it certainly isn't the end of the story). The big "issue" I had with the book, it was with the overuse of "flashbacks" at the beginning. One flashback is fine, maybe two, but if the story requires more background into a character's motivation than that, I would prefer to see a prologue at the beginning to get all that out of the way and then proceed with the "present time" story without a lot of interruptions.
Once I got past the "flashbacks", I was able to care about what happened to the characters. The villains are properly despicable, sneaky, and treacherous but human as well. They aren't absolutely evil - just disappointed or disillusioned people who make the wrong choices in response to very gutwrenching tragedies. The good guys make mistakes and put their feet in their mouth just like we all do.
All in all, not bad for a first sci-fi novel. I could see myself reading the next book whenever it comes out. I have no problems letting my kids take a crack at it.
If you want to purchase the book, you can buy it at Amazon or upload it to your Kindle from here.