David Feintuch,
Children of Hope
(Ace, 2001)

My first glance at David Feintuch's Children of Hope was disheartening. Not only was the book just over 600 pages long and military science fiction -- not my favorite sub-genre -- but it was also the seventh volume in Feintuch's Seafort Saga. I was the least likely person to review this book!

To my surprise, once I started the book, I couldn't put it down. As one might expect, the novel is mostly plot driven, but unlike many novels of this kind, the characterizations don't suffer. The characters are complex, fallible, capable of behaviors good and bad, predictable and spontaneous.

When protagonist Randy Carr was 9, his father, Derek, left their home planet of Hope Nation to help conduct trade negotiations with Earth. He never came home and, ever since, Randy had harbored hatred for his father's friend Nick Seafort. 14-year-old Randy holds Seafort responsible for his father's death.

When Randy impulsively and obscenely insults the powerful Bishop Scanlen, he sets off an incredible sequence of events that brings him face to face with none other than Seafort. To say that meeting would be a turning point for both individuals would be true, albeit an understatement and furthermore, there are more than a few surprises on the way.

The narrative is fast-paced and exciting, and the book stands alone well with the back story nicely worked in. The reader becomes totally involved with the characters as they negotiate the plot twists, hair's breadth escapes, betrayals and reconciliations in the engrossing storyline. Feintuch handles the multiple threads well, and he captures well Randy's adolescence with all its impulsiveness, passion and reckless passion.

What makes this book compelling is its heart. Randy becomes part of an curiously cobbled-together family, one which takes good care of each other. I usually don't associate genuine emotion with military science fiction, but now I know better to judge a book by its sub-genre.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 30 May 2002

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