Being well past what is euphemistically called "middle age" I tend to be suspicious of books with "young adults" as the main protagonists. Clearly not all such books are aimed exclusively at teenagers (see Harry Potter, for one example), but many are written for and aimed at a reading group to which I no longer belong. Had I known that the 3 main characters in this book were teenagers I would probably have passed it by, so I am glad that I did not know.
For a book with young heroes and heroines (I am old enough to still use that term) this book is surprisingly well drawn with an interesting story line, characters with sufficient faults to be believable and enough really bad villains to have caught my attention immediately. Added to that is the fact that the author does not fall into any of the easy clichés, things do not happen as expected and there are enough interesting turns of events to keep things from getting boring. This is a terrific first volume in the series.
By the time I realized that our 3 young characters were the central characters in the book I was far too hooked to stop listening. When I finished listening to the book I decided to buy and download the sequel. The story was great, the narration was superb and I am curious exactly what is going to happen next. I can't ask for much more than that in a work of fiction.
I read this book in paper format more than 30 years ago, but I had forgotten how good it really is. When I saw it available in audible format I jumped at the chance to listen to a previous good read.
Some of the reviews I have read are very hard on the book, but I believe that the are looking in the wrong place. What makes this book so interesting and unique, at least to me, was the idea that humans could encounter aliens so different that all of our assumptions would be wrong. How do two species interact when one is general and adaptive in nature and the other is differiented. That is at the core of this story; at least for me.
The process of meeting, all of the mistaken assumptions and the final realization as to just how different the species are is, I believe, a very interesting story with, for new readers, an unknown conclusion.
But listeners should know that this story is from 1974 and hence some of the story line is 35 years out of date. I believe that to be the cause of some of the bad reviews. Perhaps those listeners did not know the copyright date and might have been more charitable to the male-centered character of the story.
All in all I think this is a nearly great book with more than adequate reading.
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