Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
Oh dear, what happened here? For the first third of the book, I was so immensely impressed at what a deep and multi-faceted character McCaffrey had created. The intimacy of watching her struggle with the ordinary, natural things that girls do (first-time autonomy as a teen, losing one's virginity) as well as growing up, well, different set it so apart from so many books I've read lately. While it was stressed she was different, it was the traits that made her a typical teenage girl that interested me, and I found them to be immensely deftly handled.
And then it all changed. And then the Callisto section of the book began, and I wanted to cry. The initial mental flirting between the Rowan and Jeff Raven actually hints at what could have been, if that part didn't suddenly move at light speed and an acute case of INSTA-LOVE didn't develop. To start with, we miss ten years of her life; we have no idea how she got from the death of a guardian and a spiritual and sexual awakening to being a task-master and temperamental bitch; this is told to us from the point of view of the characters around her, and offers little insight into how or why this happened. Is it normal for Primes? Is it a reaction to the sudden responsibility or the grief she suffered and the sudden loss of a childhood? Doesn't matter, because you're not gonna find out. What you are going to learn about, however, is how CHARMING and BRILLIANT Jeff Raven is. And how, after telepathically flirting, and one mind-merge later, the Rowan would be compelled to constantly launch herself into his arms, calling, "DARLING!" Seriously, the relationship made a lot of the YA I've read recently look reasonable.
And yet! I thought there was still hope when the Deneb section began! Rowan was gaining character development again! And while she was there for Jeff, she had an interaction with someone other than the men on her station. Yes, an actual other woman! And just when I was despairing! And I liked Isthia, I really did. But here we have mother and lover, and while they do work separately from Jeff, the book takes on the feel of beginning to revolve around Jeff.
And that isn't helped when he's offered Earth Prime, and Rowan is content because she apparently has no ambition. Hey, motherhood is an ambition, and not one I'm putting down, in the least! My own mother chose it over a career. But Rowan suddenly seems to want to be pregnant every sixteen months, keep her job and neither move up or really keep her focus on it, as she was.
I've not read the Pegasus Trilogy, so I was unfamiliar and fascinated with the world that McCaffrey had built. The ridiculously rushed conclusion to the novel, an epic battle that's too easily won against a villain that isn't developed in the least (and seems to be the token effort to bring back any revolutionary feeling of feminism to the novel, by having only the women able to sense the impending assault--which feels as if it backfires because one would hope we'd be more advanced as a society than to say, "Oh, they must all just be on their period, am I right? Who trusts women?!") seems to be expanded on in further books (hence the "Hive" portion of the series' title), but I won't be reading.
There's nothing quite so painful than a book that has you to begin with, and then loses you so completely. Two stars for McCaffrey's gorgeous writing style and the bits that I did like. About one-half for the rest.