Thistle (thistle_chaser) wrote,

Book #15: Beautiful Blue World, 2020 book: Exiled: Clan of the Claw

Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I had thought this was an adult book written in an extremely minimalist style, but it turns out it's meant for readers aged 8-12 years old, which explains why so much was left unsaid.

Though set on some alternate world, there is NO worldbuilding at all. None. I had no idea even where or when the book was set for the first part of the book. It felt like Earth during one of the World Wars.

The main character, Mathilde, lived in a town being air bombed at night by whatever country they were at war with. Apparently the war had been going on a while. Food was scarce, resources were hard to get. Most men were sent off to "the front", with only the old men left to form a local street-level defense force.

The (whatever) country government, the one Mathilde lived in, held a national test to find kids talented enough to help in the war.

At that point I worried things were going downhill, Hunger Games direction. But nope! They were looking for both smart and special kids. Kids gifted in math and other stuff. Ones to work on decoding messages and working out patterns of attacks and such. The families of those kids would get money, which might make the difference on them surviving, so Mathilde took the test.

She was picked, and whisked off across (whatever country) to an old house used as a training center.

It was at this point that one of the characters mentioned in dialogue the name of the country and who they were fighting, and it was only at that point I knew it wasn't set on Earth.

In the old house where all the kids work out of, Mathilde was confused. She wasn't the best student, she wasn't talented in any way, so why did they pick her? Turned out she did have a special skill: [Cut off here]Empathy. They brought her in to befriend a teenage boy, a prisoner of war, and to get information out of him. End spoiler.

Even before I knew how young the intended audience was, I was really impressed with this book. So much was unsaid about the horrors of war, but I could fill it in myself.

I already started the sequel.

Exiled: Clan of the Claw by S. M. Stirling, Harry Turtledove, John Ringo, and Jody Lynn Nye
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Check out the cover of this one, it's like some classic scifi from the 70s.

Set on Earth, the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs never hit, so reptiles evolved into the dominant species. During an ice age, there was a window that let a mammal species evolve, but this time it was feline instead of ape.

The book contained four novellas set in this world. The first two were so good! The two species were handled so well. Both felt so realistic, their views (and hatred) of the other were so believable.

The Merm (cat people) were exactly what you would expect of some large cat species that evolved to walk on two legs and be able to think. Perfectly cat-like. The Lishash (lizard people) were just as realistic and believable.

The third novella was different though. It didn't seem to match the first two at all. Everything was too modern. The ... Hm. Okay. Reading the reviews, apparently each story was supposed to be a take on the theme, not all set in the same world. That explains why novellas 3 and 4 felt so different. I guess that's sort of an interesting way to handle it.

I made myself finish 3, but couldn't finish 4. DNF the book at 85%.

Partial book credits:
Point reached in this book: 85%
Previous abandoned book total: 315%
New total: 400% (four books)
Tags: 2020 books, book review, book: beautiful blue world, book: exiled clan of the claw

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