55. CHILDREN OF GOD, BY MARY DORIA RUSSELL (Book 2 of Sparrow)
I read the first one, so I had to read the second. I didn’t much care for The Sparrow, but my qualms were mostly ideological; I thought it was well-written and an interesting story. This one was the opposite.
Synopsis: Many years after the first expedition, the Jesuits decide to mount another one to the far away planet known as Rakhat. Emilio, refusing to go, is kidnapped and forced to join. In Rakhat, many changes have also happened since Emilio left.
Overall enjoyment: It was not as well-written as the first. The characterization was not nearly as good, the events were rushed. It took me almost a month to read the first half; I was dreading it so much I made up excuses not to pick the book up. After the first half, though, it picked up pace, and I actually got to enjoy it. It feels like the story she really wanted to tell was of the surviving Janata, but she had to write all the background to it, even though she didn’t want to.
Plot: The political events span through many years. It drags. A LOT. She often gives the plot twists away almost carelessly, in the middle of the chapters. I suppose it’s a narrative choice, and possibly a way to denote passage of time, but I really didn’t care for it; when she writes out in detail scenes in which nothing of importance to the plot happens, hurriedly tells a crucial plot point in one single phrase, and then picks the story up again, fifteen years later, with some other scene in which nothing happens she breaks up the pace of the book and make it seem like what you’re reading doesn’t matter.
Characters: The characterization in this book is very poor, especially with the humans. One of my complaints about The Sparrow was that there should have been a Native-American character; there is one in this book, but he’s a disaster. The humans reactions and emotions are contradictory and exaggerated. The aliens are pretty well done, though, but I still have to say that they’re way too human.
World/setting: Why are the aliens so human? That was a problem in the first book, but in this one it’s overbearing.
Writing style: Nothing too bad, except for some very questionable narrative choices. Not very good, either.
Representation: Just like in The Sparrow, she tries to be inclusive, but in this one she fails. There are many characters from different cultural backgrounds, but the characterization is so poor that it doesn’t make any impact. They act, talk, feel, and think exactly like white Western people.
Political correctness: She attempts a lot of stuff, but falls short of them. It’s like she doesn’t fully commit to a particular idea and then flies to the other one. Like having so much ethnic diversity in her characters, and then completely ignoring it. Or trying to be feminist, but having only a couple of female characters who fall very neatly into sexist stereotypes.
Up next: Ship of Destiny, by Robin Hobb