Sunday, May 2, 2010

JOURNEY BETWEEN WORLDS by Sylvia Engdahl

This is a positive review, I swear.  You just gotta bear with me.  'Kay?
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This novel was originally published in 1970, but was updated with new information on Mars and re-released in 2006.  And guess what?  It's YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE!  Yes, it's Young Adult.  Yes!  It's Science Fiction.  And, oh yes, there is romance. 
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Two things about this book.  First of all, the romance was not convincing.  If I was eighteen years old, I wouldn't have gone out with Ross or Alex, because neither of them were good kissers.  In fact, I don't remember any kissing at all, to say nothing of those wonderful fluttery feelings you get when you fall in love.  Wait, I take that half-back.  I would've gone out with Alex, but I would've been all over him like a bad rash.
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Remember, this novel was originally published in 1970, back when there was little Romance for teens at all or any Romance in Science Fiction whatsover.  That girly, mushy stuff just was not okay.  Which makes this a pioneering book really.
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The second thing about this book is that it's written in First Person Point of View.  I know 'Fluffy First Person' is all the rage in Young Adult fiction geared to girls right now thanks to Twilight, but I've never liked it and, anyway, there's nothing 'fluffy' about this story.  Very few authors write First Person POV in a way that I like.  Lisa Shearin is a rare example of an author who writes First Person POV I like.  http://www.lisashearin.com/
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Nevertheless, the story was so good that enjoyed it in spite of those things.  Kept wanting to rewrite it though.
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The story starts out with Melinda getting ready for high school graduation and she's in love.  Well, actually, she's convinced herself she's in love, but I never bought it.  The thing is she likes to plan things out and have things all settled and for sure.  She thinks her boyfriend, Ross, is in love with her too and they're planning on getting married. 
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Her mother died when she was young and father travels a lot for his job, so she's grown up at Grandma's house.  She loves Grandma and she loves Grandma's house.  She plans on marrying Ross, going to college, becoming a teacher, and living happily ever after right there in Grandma's house.  But, her genes are working against her.  She's descended from folks who traveled to Oregon in covered wagons and settled a wild land.
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Dad shows up for graduation and presents her what he thinks is a mind-blowing graduation present, a ticket to visit the Mars colony for five months!    Of course, she doesn't tell Dad her true feelings.  She's much too reserved for that.  But, hello, a trip to Mars is NOT on the schedule.  She has her life planned out and it does NOT include space travel.  That's for freakin' lunatics, you know, although she says it a lot more politely, even to herself.  She makes up her mind to let Dad down gently, but she tells Ross about the Mars ticket first.  His reaction pushes her into a different opinion.  Although she doesn't exactly wrap all her brain cells around it, she realizes Ross is marrying her because she will make a good 'starter wife.'  She'll work to support them while he goes through law school.  She doesn't talk too much.  She'll follow him around like a puppy dog.  Ross has mistaken her lack of blabbermouthness as passivity.  Next thing you know, Melinda's boarding the ship bound for Mars and Ross is calling, stunned, and convinced she'll come running back and marry him.  She notes he never said he loved her.
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Melinda meets Alex on the boat, uh, I mean the spaceship.  The trip to Mars is long and potentially boring, but, whattayaknow, Alex is actually interested in listening what she has to say about things!  She also makes friends with Janet who thinks the colonists are nuts for wanting to settle a barren planet.  Melinda more or less agrees, but Alex, her dad, and other new friends are opening her mind up to a much wider 'world' than she knew back home.
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They all arrive on Mars and settle in.  Alex convinces Melinda to try Zero-Gs and wondering around outside the habitat bubble in a spacesuite.  She meets families and learns to make do with what is on hand because you can't just run down to Wal-Mart when you live on Mars and everything you can't produce must come to you by spaceship.
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Like I said, this novel was written in First Person and Melinda and Alex really did not make out enough, or at all, actually.  So, the story delivery system was not within my usual range of preference, but I still got the story and it was great. 
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Still, I wish the author would rewrite it just one more time.
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http://www.sylviaengdahl.com/
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I've also read ENCHANTRESS FROM THE STARS by this author and it was very good too.

2 comments:

Nayuleska said...

YA Sci-Fi Romance? Not one I've come across much :) Sounds a fun read though! (Despite what you weren't keen on).

Kimber An said...

Yeah, it's tough to sell romantic science fiction stories geared for girls in today's market.