Monday, 19 May 2014

Review & Giveaway Tour: Other Systems — Elizabeth Guizzetti

Overall the book was ambitious and had some intriguing ideas which may be appreciated by sci-fi fans! Unfortunately for me, and at odds with the majority, I felt this story was not exciting enough to keep me engaged for the whole length of the book. I found myself rather indifferent to the main character, Abby, and at times confused by her naivety and what I considered to be inappropriate reactions to her situation. However, the family we encounter aboard the Revelation felt much better developed, each complete with their own difficulties and back stories which come to light across the span of the book.

For the synopsis, full review, a bit about the author and a giveaway read more!

Official Synopsis
Genre: Sci-fi
Pages: 593
Without an influx of human DNA, the utopian colony on Kipos has eleven generations before it reaches failure. Earth is over ninety light years away. Time is short.

On the over-crowded Earth, many see opportunity in Kipos' need. After medical, intelligence, and physiological testing, Abby and her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid, are offered transportation. Along with 750,000 other strong young immigrants, they leave the safety of their family with the expectation of good jobs and the opportunity for higher education.

While the Earthlings travel to the new planet in stasis, the Kiposi, terrified the savages will taint their paradise, pass a series of indenture and adoption laws in order to assimilate them.

When Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin cannot be found. Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. Indentured to breed, she is drugged and systematically coerced. To survive, Abby learns the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her analytical mind. In order to escape her captors, she joins a planetary survey team where she will discover yet another way of life.

My Review

I want to start off by saying that I am probably in the minority with my views on this book, at least from what I have seen on GoodReads and Amazon, so precede with that in mind.

I felt this book took an excessive amount of time setting the scene and building the sci-fi world. I understand that time needs to be spent so that the reader is not left behind or questioning what is going on, but when I am 10% through a book I do expect some action to start happening. I felt the selection of ‘Earthlings’ was just background, it didn’t feel particularly exciting. For me, the book did not really start until Abby was chosen by a male on Kipos.

While this book is spilt into parts, I feel that just helps the book feel longer. During Abby’s captivity everything felt drawn out – yet I suppose it was relatively short given the months that had past! During that time I found it difficult to become more engaged with Abby, or even find her more likable. I felt sympathy for what happened to her, but despite coming from a place which looks down on sex outside of marriage, Abby does not seem that psychologically upset by what happened. In fact it seems to spur her into entertaining thoughts of getting physical with most of the men who show her some kindness – regardless of whether or not they were ordered to look after her. It doesn’t stop there. Abby even considers that some of those men will protect her. It feels as though Abby is too naïve.

I feel like Guizzetti did a great job at weaving in complexities such as genetics, racism and aging in space. However, I think there was a lot that could have been explored in more depth. The exploration of planets felt limited to some basic data collecting. Although it would have been nice to get a better experience of the different planets, they served their purposes of demonstrating Abby’s increasing confidence and role in the crew.

What I liked most about this story was the unique family dynamics on board the ship. The family is both well functioning, in terms of everyone having their duties aboard and doing them, and yet they aren’t happy and harmonious. Each adult has their own messy background which is brought to life across the span of the book. This gives characters like Harden much greater depth than is typical with side characters or love interests.

Personally, I thought the plot was not exciting enough to fill the many pages and sometimes it felt like a struggle to reach the end. However, towards the last part of the book all sorts of drama occurred and that got me hooked once again. I think I would have enjoyed the book if Abby was just… different, a little less naïve and childish, or even not there at all. Cole and his family were the characters whom I was most interested in.

The  Author

Seattle, WA – Elizabeth Guizzetti opened a new door to the science fiction genre with a character driven multi-world fiction that grabs readers’ emotions and refuses to let go. Garnering a growing and dedicated readership, Other Systems examines what an actual life of might entail if someone chooses to leave Earth and live on another planet. Hailed as both ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘emotional’, the book is resonating with readers—some who have never read science fiction before.

Inspired by NASA's Kepler mission (the search for other Earth-like planets) the novel explores the shifts in culture and belief systems, the definition of humanity, and family structure as humans for new homes. Finally it asks: Would you go?

As the author explains, her novel showcases the true power of a determined human mind. “Abby is an intelligent protagonist that grows through the course of the novel. Even though life does not turn out as planned, she uses her mind--not violence--in order to find a way out of her problems,” says Guizzetti.



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