all ages · Audio Book · Science Fiction

A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken

The worst thing about writing only positive reviews is when you go through a terrible dry patch. Combine that with a fairly deep and weird non-reading period and it looks like I have abandoned my reviewing completely! But, the good news is that I am baaaack!

princessscoundrelfarmboyI tried listening to a LOT of audiobooks over the past few weeks. I am burned out with a specific style and so I turned to a completely new genre. Well, a new audiobook book genre anyway. I borrowed The Princess, The Scoundrel and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken from my local library. Admittedly, I briefly considered not listening to it when the introduction marked the book as a re-telling of A New Hope but this whole mood reading can only go on for so long. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and finish a book! I am so glad that I persevered because this is an excellent audiobook.

Told in three parts by two extremely talented narrators, this book transported me back to the magic that was my first Star Wars experience. Aided by sound effects and selections from John Williams original score, the audiobook reminded me of my beloved Star Wars, A New Hope LP.  Here though, the author cleverly expands the inner thoughts and experiences of the three main characters to give me what all Star Wars fans want most: more Star Wars. Listening to Leia’s childhood reflections, her concerns regarding her usefulness to the Rebellion, Han’s growing admiration for both Leia and Luke and his fear of losing them, and Luke’s introduction and growing awareness of the Force stayed so true to Star Wars canon without becoming trite. It is glorious!

The whole time I was listening I could not stop thinking that this audiobook might be the perfect way to introduce young children (or older new fans) to Star Wars. The audiobook gives all the excitement and adventure, as well as wonderful character development, as the movies but without some of the scarier visual images that the film so masterfully uses. While there is no replacement for the first time you see Darth Vader’s cape fan out as he stalks down the corridor with The Imperial March thundering in your ears, this audiobook is an auditory treat. And, since I loved it after seeing the film countless times, it would be perfect for new fans and rabid older fans alike.

I have to mention as well that this book has a wonderful theme. Star Wars is my basis for explaining everything but I have never really considered how these characters break societal and self-imposed labels during their adventures. Leia is more than a Princess, Han is only a Scoundrel when he wants to be and Luke is SO much more than a Farmboy. How the world sees them and even how they label themselves changes and grows  during their time together and it is wonderful to behold. It is also an important message to send children – you can change who you are and you can change how you think about people.

I cannot recommend this audiobook enough! Whether you’ve enjoyed Star Wars since childhood or are a reluctant (but curious) fan, this is a wonderful retelling.


Tell me, please!

If you aren’t a Star Wars fan, what is holding you back?


 

Science Fiction · series

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

When there is a new book in a long adored series there is a unique sense of anticipation. On one hand you know the world. The characters are your friends and sometimes your favorite people. And it is so very thrilling to be back again. On the other hand, the author can make choices in this place you love that give you pause. They can kill off characters you have long treasured or simply change them in a way that negatively alters your connection. Plus, anytime there is anticipation and hype the pressure can kill the enjoyment. I felt all of this and more when I finally received my pre-ordered copy of Iron Gold by Pierce Brown.

irongoldThis book was one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2018. I feel I must make two things clear. First, I do not like dystopian science-fiction. Second, the Red Rising Trilogy is  dystopian science fiction and I am still a gigantic fan. I love the characters; Darrow, Mustang, all the Howlers (especially Sevro!) and Ragnar. I am fascinating by the different planets and caste systems. The pace and action are thrilling to the point of near exhaustion. If you enjoy science fiction I feel confident in recommending the Red Rising Trilogy.

When I first heard that there was a new book by Pierce Brown I had assumed that it would be a new series. Instead it is a new trilogy that begins ten years after Morning Star concludes. Darrow, Sevro and the Howlers are still fighting to take control of the inner ring planets. And, while Darrow and Mustang have married and have a son, Pax, the three are rarely together.

I will freely admit that I found the idea that these characters were not at peace after all of their trials and tribulations to be a bit exhausting. Furthermore, I had difficulty remembering who everyone was, especially since some of the main characters in Iron Gold were children or minor players in the prior trilogy. The shifting narratives created delayed comprehension of the story as a whole but eventually gave a much better understanding of the new story Brown was putting together.

By the middle of the book, I was quite torn. Then, slowly, Brown began to rebuild a new generation for the next wave of the revolution. All of the old guard still maintain a presence in the storyline but now the light is shone on a new cast of characters that I found obsessively interesting.

I closed the book thrilled and wanting more. At more than 500 pages it is an epic story. Visiting with some of my favorite characters from the original trilogy was enjoyable but eventually I found that I was more than happy that Brown is re-focusing on other characters for the subsequent books. Not unlike the Star Wars universe, I got to go back and see Luke, Han and Leia but I didn’t expect that they would be the only stars of the show.


Tell me, please!

Have you read the Red Rising Series? Are you interested in Iron Gold?