Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review of Alpha Revelation by P.A. Baines

In a previous book, P. A. Baines explores the question of what happens when a computer achieves sentience. He revisits the question in this YA dystopian set on MARS. Although I think I would have come up with a different answer, his answer is interesting on many levels.
We follow a really likable young adult on the cusp of graduation and taking on of adult life who feels like he doesn't really belong to this cramped society. And then he finds out he feels like he doesn't belong because he really doesn't belong during a shattering revelation. And he has to cope with one revelation after another while danger around him grows. How is he going to save the people he loves?
I should warn you that there are at least two political views expressed within the novel that will either have you shouting, "Preach it, Brother!" or will have you spitting in anger. I'm of the Preach it! variety. One of the questions the character asks is why doesn't the Martian colony expand instead of living like they're in a space ship with no resources beyond their walls? Good question, and one I spent some time thinking about. I'm of the camp that thinks that in a world of limited pie, we should bake more pies. Some people think they should fight over the slices of pie. And some people think they should control the pie. I think the leaders of the colony picked option number three, with devastating consequences.
There is one thing that annoyed me. I seem to spend a lot of time b-, uh, griping about this. I can't stand God as a character chatting up other characters in a book. There is likely an amusing hypocrisy here in that I allow C. S. Lewis to do it, but I won't let stand the practice in 'Merican, Aussie, or Kiwi writers.
The ending surprised me, which doesn't happen often. I totally expected a different ending. It's good when a writer can surprise me. And it's good when a book can raise questions that make me think. And it's good when I can follow the adventures of a character I can like as much as I did Shor. I'm looking forward to Baines' next book.

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