Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Key - Pauline Baird Jones

Sara Donovan is a crackerjack pilot in the US Air Force assigned to a top secret mission to explore a galaxy far outside the Milky Way. This human mission stumbles into the middle of a generations long war between the Dustan and the Gadi. Donovan is attacked by the hostile and ruthless Dustan and crash lands on the planet Kikk. Kiernan Fyn is a member of a group of outside-the-law fighters known as the Ojemba who are sworn to destroy the Dustan. He’s been stranded on Kikk for long enough that his people think he’s dead. Donovan dropping almost into his lap seems like a reward from the gods to make up for all his hardship. Donovan wouldn’t like the idea of being someone’s reward but she’s more than a little taken by the hunky alien who ‘rescues’ her from her crashed war-bird.

Fyn and Donnovan both have secrets, and they are surrounded by a vast number of questions. Why is Donovan the exact image of Miri, the woman who may have caused the Dustan-Gadi war? What exactly is Fyn’s aleigence to the Ojemba’s mysterious leader? Why, although the Gadi don't think much of women, and the Dustan are worse, do both their leaders risk provoking war with the explorers from Earth to try to marry feisty, outspoken, more than a little, rough around the edges Donnovan? Why do they think she is the key to the lost secrets of Garradians who vanished centuries ago leaving behind vast empty cities and outposts all over their galaxy?

This book reads like the novelization of the whole seasons run of a SF TV show that you somehow missed seeing. I’m guessing that’s intentional since Donnovan is a fan of the SciFi network. Jones really nails military jargon, but the story is light on things like - How did the Earth team get to another galaxy? How did they built a fleet of ships to get there in secret? Why exactly are they exploring another galaxy instead of someplace closer to home? In some ways this would have worked better for me if they were in another solar system in our galaxy because the scale of extra galactic travel is just too big for me to buy it being done this casually, but… I’m willing to overlook that because the book was such a fun read.

Donnovan is almost too perfect, ace pilot, talented musician, completely unaware of her sex appeal, but she is also vulnerable and tough so she grew on me. Fyn is big, gorgeous and silent most of the time, but he has an inner vulnerablity and sweetness that grew on me too. If you were a fan of shows like Farscape, the various Treks and most of all Stargate you will enjoy this book. If you like a slightly harder version of SF you might find the book a little light, but don't let that keep you away, it makes for a great comfort read. I’m in the middle of the home remodeling adventure from hell, which is why this review is being posted late, and knowing I had a fun comfy read waiting for me at bed-time last week helped keep me sane. That may sound like a weird recommendation for a book, but I’m a strong believer is reading as escape from the stress and strain of the real world. Not enough books can give you that release, so when I find one that helps we unwind as much as this one did, I’m happy.

Everyone in this book is in the military, so there is some “salty” language. Although much of it is done with euphemism, it’s easy to see what’s really being said. I can have bad potty-mouth myself given the right triggers, so I enjoyed the “code word” cursing. Someone really sensitive might be offended. There is sexual tension all over the place in this book, including a might-build-up-to-rape-but-gets-stopped-before-things-go-too-far scene, but all sex takes place off-screen. There are several battle scenes, and there are deaths, but they are bloodless for the most part.


Kimber An said...

Awesome review, Mary!

Sorry you had trouble posting. I've had trouble with the Internet all day and thought it was just local. I still haven't been able to open email. I could read the title of your email and that was it.

Anyway, I'm so glad you were able to post your review!

Mfitz said...

For some reason I could only make "draft" copies of my post, but then suddenly I could "publish" it so I went back and deleted the "draft" copies. Very frustrating.

Heather said...

[...]Enduring Romance reviews Pauline Baird Jones’ THE KEY[...]