Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ariel by Steven R. Boyett (4/5 stars)

This book looked really interesting and I have read good things about it so I decided to give it a go. It was an enjoyable read, although there are a few things in the book which irked me a bit. This book was originally released in the early 80's and this is a re-release of it.

This story takes place in the post-Change world of the United States. The Change happened one day and suddenly all electricity/technology stopped working and magical creatures began roaming the earth. Humanity was left to survive in any manner possible in this post-apocalyptic type of world. Pete is living day to day when he stumbles upon a unicorn with a broken leg. He takes the time to fix her leg and dubs her Ariel. A year later Pete and Ariel are still traveling together; only someone is after Ariel's power and Pete and Ariel only have one choice...to destroy the necromancer that wants to hold Ariel captive.

This book moves at a fairly brisk and kept my interest. The relationship Pete and Ariel have, as well as the relationship of other characters with their familiars, is very interesting and much of the story pays attention to this. I also found it interesting that there is so much focus on Pete struggling with keeping his virginity, if he loses it then him and Ariel can no longer be companions. Enter a young woman (Saughnessy) who tempts Pete more than she should.

While Pete and Ariel are very well-developed characters, the characters surrounding them could use some work. The evil necromancer is fairly faceless and we never get to learn his thoughts on anything. Even the young woman that travels with Pete is rather 2-dimensional; you never get to understand her or hear why she wants to travel with Pete or Ariel.

There is a lot of unfettered violence and a lot of action in this book. Those with a weak stomach might want to skip it; to be far I don't think that the violence was made unreasonably gory...Boyett tries to stay true to what the resulting gore would actually be given that people's limbs are removed with swords quite often. I enjoyed the inclusion of the Japanese mentality to fighting with all the samurai sword action, those scenes were a lot of fun.

The ending of the book left me disappointed. I thought the choices that Pete made were kind of sudden and un-called for; but I will not mention any more to prevent spoilers.

There were a few things that bothered me about this book. The first was Pete's use of a blowgun to drop enemies immediately; it just isn't very realistic. In the Afterward Boyett says that he now realizes this. The second thing that bothered me was the lack of people. Pete travels through vast quantities of land without barely seeing anyone, which could happen. But then he goes through big cities without seeing many people. I realize if electricity/technology stopped some people would be killed in car accidents, plane crashes, etc...but a vast majority of humanity would probably be okay. I am wondering were they all went. Also since it has been six years since the Change, wouldn't you think humanity would be re-forming organizations and communities? There is a small community (300 people) talked about in New York, but other than that there doesn't seem to be much organization at all. I just found these aspects to very unbelievable and this lowered my opinion of the story, because it was so fundamental to the story.

Overall I enjoyed the story. It is a bit long and some parts are hard to find believable, but it is well written with some awesome action scenes. Boyett's idea of a post-apocalyptic world forced by a fundamental change in the laws of physics is interesting, but flawed at points. Will I be reading "Elergy Beach", the sequel to Ariel? Probably not. I just didn't love the world enough to continue reading about it.

This book goes towards the following challenges:
- 100+ Book Reading Challenge
- Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge


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