How funny, I haven’t read another Acorna book since this one, and now I’ve finally reached this review to betterise. I’d better get to the next book soon.
This one surprised me. Acorna’s Search is the first book after the defeat of the major threat, the Khleevi, and overall, I think this was a good place to go with the story. The writing style improved a lot here, and there was much less Twee and Self-righteousness. Always a joy.
In a way that reminded me of post-war healing, the Linyaari return to their original homeworld with to survey the land in preparation for terraforming. But soon after they arrive, people start to go missing. This shouldn’t be a big deal for telepaths who have literally shown themselves capable of contacting one another across lightyears. Except no one can reach the missing ones telepathically.
Depending on your tolerance for the Linyaari’s tendency to complain/whine, their initial reactions to the terraforming project can either make you sympathise or throw your hands in the air and ask if they are ever happy with effing anything. Although I’m usually cheerfully the latter, this time I went with the former, because of the kinds of things they said. Nitpicks like, “I don’t remember that mountain being so high,” etc. Somehow, it made me really think about what a horrible thing happened to them (something their general behaviour tends to make you forget in favour of just being digusted with the majority), and everything that this project means.
However, I would have sympathised more if this had led to a discussion that memories are subjective, and that they can only get so far with an enormous geological project based on what people remember. Most of their records have been destroyed. Unfortunately, no one made that observation, and so leaves readers with nothing but the whining.
After they land, the first person to go missing is the annoying vizir. This is a genius place to start, because no one, and I mean NO ONE is going to miss her. Not readers or the characters. They actually assumed that she had skived off because it’s the kind of lazy asshole thing that she would do. They didn’t think anything bad had happened to her, and a lot of them really didn’t care if it might have. But then they miss someone who is not a douchebag and stuff gets real.
The horror elements were great. Although they could have been done with more emphasis, and the narrative focused mostly on bickering and helplessness rather than fear. Even so, I made up for it by wanting to the tension to affect me. If you step back and consider the idea of telepaths going missing, and even “going dark,” without the sign of fear/pain that would accompany death… You gotta admit, that’s pretty scary. They honestly don’t know whether their loved ones are alive or dead. And all of this is happening on a dead planet with extreme significance for everyone there. Telepaths accustomed to constant thought traffic are suddenly weighed down with silence.
One thing that really didn’t sit well with me was the resolution. My reaction was to close the book on my thumb, look up and say aloud, “Okay, what the heck was…. did that… No. I had to have read that wrong.” Whereupon I read it again. I hadn’t read it wrong.
Then I read it to Hubby and I think he just laughed. [So, people are lost in time. This is cool. Their method of time travel? Fall in the water. Seriously. Acorna gets trapped in time, and falls down a waterfall, then pops out… on the other side? I still don’t get this.] Probably the right reaction.
Anyway, the cliffhanger for the next book is compelling. It’s hard to talk about the latter end of the book without using a billion spoiler tags, or tagging the whole review. So yeah, first half is the expected Acorna installment except a bit darker and with more Linyaari. It’s safe to say that the Uncles have officially been replaced by Becker, who is himself probably on the way out. I mean it about the uncles, Hafiz isn’t even pretending to be retired anymore, and I don’t think anyone even said Rafik’s name.
The obsoletion of the Uncles reminds me rather dismally and uncomfortably of those RPs I have seen where, once a character ends up HEA in a romantic relationship, he or she either falls out of the RP (along with the love interest, if it was a PC) to be replaced by a new single character who will probably meet the same fate, or s/he becomes abominably boring. This impression was not helped by the fact that Becker managed to stay relevant and on-camera by breaking up with Nadhari. To be fair, it might also have something to do with the fact that three father figures is a lot to juggle, and they were never all that distinct anyway.
I struggled with how I felt about the obsoletion for a while. Like I said, all three of those characters were not terribly complex and they petered out by the end of the first book. They’re rather flat, and they fell into the romance trap I mentioned quite quickly. In the end, I’m going to stand by what I said when I first wrote the review: It’s just not very good character management, and further proof that the first book is the weakest in this series–which is a very bad thing, guys.
Still, I want to read the next book. Now that I’ve officially read more than I previously had done, I’m glad I started re-reading this series.