Saturday, March 16, 2013

Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh

What's the book about?

Is the year 2352 and humanity has conquered the stars. Exploring the wide space we have come to build stations farther and farther, but we have also discovered a couple of planets that are habitable. Amongst this there is Pell, a planet already populated by the gentle Hisa. Pell has become a neutral point between the Earth Company (the original explorers) and the Union, two entities at war. A dense political, economical and moral plot develops in front of us.

What was different of this book?

The book starts with a long prelude that will set the reader in the present situation. There is a lot of politics involved and you will want to pay attention otherwise as you move in the book you will find yourself looking things up that were explained at the beginning (been there, done that). There is a very nice character build up and I particularly liked Joshua Talley. However I had a lot of problems falling into the plot. The first part (book I) is so heavily charged with situations and yet slowly paced that I was struggling through the pages. Keep in mind that I usually read at night so a lot of times I would just fall asleep with the book. 

What about the main character?

Since is hard to pin point a main character here I will just talk about my favourite character, Talley, while trying not to give away much of the punch. He arrives to Pell Station with a huge influx of refugees from attacked stations. He is presented as an Union prisoner of war, who was rescued by a Company fleet. Through the book we learned that this saving had a big price and it took its toll on Talley's mind. He opts for an Adjustment (mind erasing if you will) and tries to restart his life in Pell. I liked him because although broken in a lot of senses he is very sensitive and tries very hard to learn who he is above all. He is grateful to those who helped him and I liked the twist in his story a lot.

The 10% moment

We are still in book one at this point, and as I mentioned is very slow paced (in my opinion, although I've read some reviews that disagree). We are getting to know the characters although the image we have of most of them during book I will change drastically in book II (i.e: The Konstantins vs the Lukas). But I have to tell you, if it wasn't because in the opening podcast of the S&L they insisted it would get better I would've not continue reading it.

Final thoughts

I have the feeling is a very good book. It just wasn't a good book for me. I liked all the political, environmental comments, but I think it was so fully charged with prose around it that I got tired before getting to the point. More often than not I would have to go back in the pages because my mind just didn't register something was happening. The same way when you are in a room full of people is hard to notice the details. I liked the Hisa characters but I did not like the fact that they spoke what is known as broken English when they were talking to themselves. Someone in Goodreads mentioned that this is common amongst oppress people, but once again it was trying for me. That said, I found there used of "I love you" you be adorable. 

I also loved the idea that such a renown science fiction piece was the work of a woman (yei! us!) which made me feel even worst for not liking it. 

For all of these reasons I'm giving it a 3/5

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