It’s funny, today I’m betterising this review, and I also finished and reviewed Acorna’s Search today.
This is actually my second read-through of the Acorna series. The first time I read it, I stopped after this book. (I think I was sixteen, since I’m pretty sure that the next book was out when I was reading this one.) Impressionable as I was, I still hadn’t cottoned to the glaring flaws in the series. But I do remember deciding that I liked this book as an ending to the series, and that I was perfectly happy to stop here. This may have also been when I got really sucked into the Discworld, but I digress.
As others have said, Acorna’s World is standard fare for the series. The Linyaari are snooty, superior Space Elves, oddly reminiscent of Vulcans, and they make the issue of culture clash a big fat hairy deal even when it shouldn’t matter. Acorna continues her life in a satisfyingly direct way that links well with the end of the last book. The Khleevi make you wish they’d just piss off already. And supporting characters do what they have always done without a lot of development.
It could almost be comfort food if it weren’t for the aforementioned glaring flaws.
Chief among them is the style of writing. It’s rather like trying to read an entire wikia in one sitting. Some things do need to be told, but show-don’t-tell is a good piece of advice. Acorna books tend to report things. This doesn’t always cut off the emotional impact, but it does make some moments mawkish and over the top.
EXCEPTION: When Maati and Aari reunite with their not-dead parents. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Another annoying thing in the series is its lack of commitment to the setting. There are frequent mentions of “Old Earth” things, be it literature references or trying to explain turns of phrase. I loathe every one of these references. In our modern, contemporary times, people say things like “cat got your tongue.” You can write that in a book set in 2014 without adding a character who explains about ship discipline and the cat o’ nine tails. In fact, if you did add that character, readers would be weirded out. Etymology tends not to matter in casual conversation, and if the phrase survived at all, no one would need to discuss it.
Slightly related… This is a very specific nitpick, but it still bothers me to this day. I really hated the Sherlock Holmes thing at the beginning. I can maybe forgive the deerstalker. But the play on “Elementary, my dear Watson”? No. Aari is explicitly stated to be reading “a trashed-out copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” Not even The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, which contains The Adventure of the Crooked Man. He would have had to have been watching The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929) and even then, his quote would still be dropping the “elementary” at the end.
I know all this and I’m not even a fan of Sherlock Holmes. I only like the guy. Ugh. Anyway.
The characters are not that deep, although usually likeable, unless you aren’t supposed to like them. I love characters you are not supposed to like. They are cartoonishly antagonistic moustache-twirlers, but the great ones tend to be psychotic. It’s a rather realistic portrayal of psychosis, but against the backdrop of… well, the series… I find them funny in a black humour way. Someone will be offended, if not by the characters, then by my finding them funny.
As I’ve been re-reading the series, I’ve rated them pretty low overall, but now that I’ve hit this one, the last one I have already read, I have fallen into something of a groove. This could also be a better book than the rest. I just didn’t find it as irritating to be told everything, suffer maudlin scenes of informed emotion, and rail at characters for all sharing all the same dang opinions.
I’m ready to read the rest now.