Thursday, October 4, 2012

Audiobook Review - A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber (3/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: Baen
Release Date: October 4th, 2011
ISBN: 978-141637470
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in a series
Source: Audiobook through
Rating: 3/5 stars

This is the first book in the Honorverse: Stephanie Harrinton by Weber; a sub-series in his Honorverse series aimed at YA readers. The second book in this series, Fire Season, is due out October 2012.

The audiobook was very well done, with excellent narration and good distinction between character voices. It was a good book to listen to.

Stephanie has been forced to move to the relatively unpopulated planet of Sphinx when her scientist parents acquire land there. During one of her hanger flights Stephanie crashes into the forest only to be saved by another sentient species on the planet which she nicknames tree-cats. She bonds with a tree-cat she calls Lionheart and a struggle ensues to ensure the safety of this new species. The book switches between Stephanie’s and Lionheart’s/Climbs Quickly’s viewpoints. This worked well for the story and gave us an excellent glimpse into both sentient life forms (humans and treecats).

I listened to Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi earlier this year and you can’t help by think of that book when you read this one. To be honest this book is a less action-packed, less humorous Fuzzy Nation aimed at a YA audience. It is a decently done YA science fiction novel, but I felt like I was reading a watered down version of Fuzzy Nation.

This book does addresses some interesting issues like discovering and exploiting sentient species on a non-earth planet. Unfortunately the story is very simple and predictable. Things are incredibly very over-explained and reiterated again and again. The description is so repetitive and things are explained in such minute detail that the whole story felt very dumbed down.

Stephanie makes an excellent heroine. She is smart, funny, honest, and brave. The relationship she has with her parents is also really well done. You can tell that their family relationship is based on mutual respect; it’s a family anyone would be happy to be part of. Lionheart and his clan are similarly respectful and reasonable with each other.

There were things that puzzled me though; like why was language such a barrier for so long between the humans and the tree cats? Stephanie and Lionheart are friends for over a year and they still have trouble communicating. You would think if both species are so intelligent then they would eventually start using hand signals or writing to communicate. This was just a major gap in logic that bothered me throughout the story.

Things are fairly well tied up at the end of the book, and although this is clearly not a stand alone novel, it could be read as such.

Overall a decent if somewhat flawed YA science fiction novel. I enjoyed the heroine and her family dynamic, the tree cats were also interesting. The story was very simplistic though and things were re-iterated to the point where the story felt a bit dumbed down. Also if you have read Fuzzy Nation by Scalzi then you have already read a very similar story that is funnier and more action packed than this one. I would tentatively recommend to middle grade or YA sci-fi fans; I don’t think most adults will find much here to interest them. I would highly recommend reading John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation instead of this book to explore similar topics.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- TBR Pile Reading Challenge

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