Connie Willis,
(Subterranean Press, 2007)

If I'm looking for a book to introduce someone to Connie Willis's unique style, the brief but entertaining D.A. would be just fine. However, for those of us who know, love and wait impaitiently for Willis's wild stories, it falls a little flat.

Following the tried and true formula -- the set-up of an initial mistake and the madcap adventure its correction entails -- D.A. was only a step ahead of me as I read, wheras most Willis tales tend to be about four. That's why she's so good. I love that feeling of cluelessness while I'm pulled along just as haplessly as the protagonist through a series of improbable, but not impossible, misadventures.

D.A. begins with high school student Theodora Baumgarten's undesired (and unapplied for) acceptance into the International Space Academy, a future NASA-meets-Harvard space boot-camp.

Theodora hates the academy and the bourgeois elitism she feels it stands for. She hates rules, hates her roommate and really, really hates space. She doesn't belong there, but can't get anyone to believe her. Secretly communicating by cell and text with her best friend, genius hacker Kimkim, she's desperate to find out why she and possibly others are being held against their will outside the Earth's orbit.

While the finish is satisfying, it's probably not too surprising. Still, for a quick read, and a (hopefully brief) holdover until the next novel, I give it a not-bad.

by Katie Knapp
11 February 2007