I know this is an older book, but I enjoyed it. Thought I’d share.
A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie E. Czerneda
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a sci-fi romance that tries very hard to be more than just a sci-fi romance. And it mostly succeeds.
I liked it. There’s a lot of things to like. Plenty of interesting aliens, a nice starship, detailed descriptions of that scenery that somehow manage to add to the experience instead of bogging it down, and a nice, fun touch that makes this a good ride. Good concepts, too.
The plot gets very twisty toward the end. Some of those twists were very good, but some were so confusing that I’m still not sure what happened. And some of the twists made me wonder about a particular, important character’s true motivations. Unfortunately, those motivations weren’t entirely clear to me by the end of the story, even though I enjoyed watching the twist play out. By the time everything’s finished, I realized I needed a cheat sheet to keep track of all the double-crosses and mixed motivations and political realities. It’s a very complex plot by the end.
Morgan is the real star of this. I think. He’s the typical “bad boy who isn’t really bad”, but he switches too easily to this gentle, sweet character when Sira is involved instead of acting a bit more real. I mean, the pull toward her is easily explained, even by another character, and yet he never seems to stop to question why he’s being drawn toward Sira like a moth to a flame–and yes, there’s a reason I’m using that image. Instead, he gives a token resistance at the beginning, then happily keeps trying to stay near her whenever possible. And everyone’s okay with this by the end? Seriously, only one person tries to talk sense into him at one point and even then he’s not actually questioning Morgan’s clouded judgment, he’s just worried Morgan isn’t up to being with Sira.
Even the ending didn’t entirely answer the question of why he was so willing to be with Sira and what made him flip like he did. It tries to be instaluv, but with the concepts she’s introduced, it sounds more like hypnosis.
Other than that, Morgan is a lot of fun, with some great lines on occasion. He’s always got a plan, and as a Human, he’s got some tricks up his sleeves that the telepathic Clan don’t even consider. I loved watching him, whenever he appeared.
Sira is all right. She’s the typical heroine up until the end, when you realize who she actually is. The contrast between the two selves is nicely drawn, as well as the similarities. And the questions that result from learning who she is aren’t easily brushed aside, which was nice.
I think the biggest thing to remember in reading this book is that (as mentioned above) it’s almost a romance novel. The focus is on Choosing/deciding on a life partner–which was a fantastic concept, btw!–in spite of the running-for-your-life action, so there’s many moments that read like something out of a sweet romance novel. However, because the focus is on trying to create a sci-fi story, the focus is on working together instead of on hot and heavy scenes. I liked that.
I’ll probably read the next one.