Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Book Review: Swans & Klons by Nora Olsen

Pros: interesting premise, great characters, positive depictions of lesbian relationships, positive depictions of handicapped, thought provoking, doesn't provide easy answers, great use of linguistical shifts

Cons: underdeveloped world-building, less development than the story deserved

For Parents: no sex but there is kissing, swearing done in German, minor violence

After a mysterious disease turned all men into 'Cretinous Males' with degenerative disorders, humanity chose 300 specimens of female perfection on which to build Society.  Hatched from tanks, those without modifications are human.  Those with modifications are klons, stronger and without the passions and intelligence of their human similars, they serve so the humans can achieve their full potential. 

Rubrik and Salmon Jo are sixteen, schatzies (lovers), and leaving the academy for their first mentoring assignments in the city.  Rubrik is an artist.  Salmon Jo is a scientist working at the hatcheries.  When Salmon Jo makes a startling discovery about the klons, their lives are forever changed.

This is a quick, fun read.  The characters are a little quirky and their relationship fantastic (no angst, no unwarranted fights or wafflings of affections, no love triangles, just a nice, functional relationship).

I loved that the girls are products of their society, thinking pregnancy and males (at least on Rubrik's side) are disgusting.  Similarly, the linguistical shifts, adding in some German words (or, German based words) was neat, and I loved their misunderstanding/misuse of the word 'hacker'.

Later in the book there are some descriptions of handicapped people that are done with great care and respect.  Indeed, this is a great book for questioning biases on several accounts, and specifically what makes a person human.  I loved that the author provided no answers, just ethical and philosophical questions

The biggest downside to the book was its low word count.  The publisher lists the page count at 264, but the epub file on my iPad came up to 108.  On numerous occasions the pacing felt rushed as the story jumped from one aspect to another trying to get everything in.  I think the world-building especially suffered here.  There's enough information to follow the story, but I'd have loved to see it fleshed out better, especially given the complexity of the issues being addressed.

Also, things on the whole go too easily for the girls.  With very little planning most of their crazy schemes turn out ok, which seemed a bit far fetched considering what they were doing.

Still, it's an interesting read.

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