Monday, November 12, 2012
Book Review: A COMING OF AGE
Publisher: Open Road
Pub Date: October 16, 2012 (first published 1984)
The first colonists to reach Tigris thought they had found Eden... but the planet had a horrifying effect on their children. Babies born there developed frightening telekinetic powers at the age of five. No one could control them -- and as the changelings grew and became aware of their abilities they initiated a bloodbath of chaos and violence that nearly destroyed the planet.
Two centuries after the Lost Generation, Tigrins have learned to cope with their strange planet and its effects. But a new threat is rising. In secret a medical researcher is experimenting with the TK ability. His guinea pigs are stolen children; his object, to extend their powers past adolescence and into adulthood. If he succeeds, Tigris faces disintegration. (Synopsis from Goodreads)
After reading this book, I am adding more Timothy Zahn novels to my to-read pile. The story was not what I was expecting, but it was fantastic. I was expecting a fast-paced action story, and instead I got a thought-provoking detective novel.
The world building is what makes this story shine. Zahn asks the question "What would happen to our society if children suddenly developed the powers of telekinesis?" His answer: A world dependent on depriving children of knowledge until after their powers disappear at puberty, keeping them in line with a "hive" system where the children mentor each other. This new society also gives reign to adults who kidnap kids from their hives, exploit their abilities through manipulation, and then discard them after the kids reach puberty, leaving them without a home or education.
It is a bit slow moving at first, but picks up as the mystery of a kidnapped boy unravels. The story mainly follows three characters: Lisa, a girl struggling with her upcoming transition to adulthood and loss of her teeking abilities; Tirrell, the detective looking for the kidnapped boy; and Omega, a "prophet" manipulating a large group of children for his own purposes. It is only near the end of the book that we discover how these characters' lives intersect as answers to the mystery are revealed.
A Coming of Age is a fascinating read with a thought-provoking set of events and characters. If sci-fi mixed with a healthy dose of gritty mystery sounds good to you, give this one a go!