Friday, September 30, 2011

Echoes of Savanna - a Media Guests review

Echoes of Savanna, written by Lucinda Moebius, is the story of a young doctor in the year of 2036 and thereafter. She is a child prodigy, and at the age of 19, has proven herself to be a competent doctor. When a terrorist attack threatens the calm and safety of the United States, Savanna Taylor finds herself absorbed in the effort of preparing vaccines to thwart the efforts of biological warfare, namely against smallpox, tuberculosis, bubonic plague, and others.

This book is a sci-fi/dystopia novel with a medical fiction twist.

The first half of this story confused me from time to time. I take notes when I do my reviews, and I'm glad I did because this one was a very involved story.

Savanna Taylor, main character, deals with some of the following topics: biological warfare, the genetic alteration of humans (including the insertion of animal genetics), martial law, fetal adoption, rape, female circumcision, the microchipping of the population, and dealing with sects and militant groups. Because there were so many big topics, I felt overwhelmed at times while I read. It's not uncommon for writers to hit on some controversial topics once in a while, but Lucinda touched on several.

The story begins with Susanna's struggle to calm a pandemic. Then she's swept into a situation where she's dealing with a 14-year-old Navajo girl requesting that Susanna adopt her unwanted embryo. Then the pandemic situation seems to go away, leaving me thinking that the author's going to hit the topic again in a chapter or two. However, it seems to be a background situation that just pops up at random. In fact, it seemed like the author got tired of talking about one topic and would hit another here and there. There was a feeling of underdevelopment that I had.

The secondary characters at first seemed to be faceless to me. As I was reading the first quarter of the story, I couldn't help but wonder if there was a book that preceded this one, because the way Lucinda wrote, it felt like I should already know who some of the characters were.

Also during this first quarter, four or five years pass with too little "activity". In a few lines, six months of pregnancy pass, and then years pass in a few pages. It wasn't until I hit about the 60% point in the book that the story seemed to pick up my interest.

Throughout this story, I kept asking myself: "what is the purpose of this story?" and "what does the main character learn?" I was finally able to answer that question during the last chapter of the book. You'll have to read it to find those answers yourself! ;)

I think Lucinda did a good bit of research in writing this story, and I appreciate that greatly. However, there were times when I had to go and search some things to find out what she was talking about. I'm not familiar with a lot of medical terminology. For example, there was mentioned ACL, and I was waiting to see if there was an explanation of ACL and didn't see it. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see it and ended up looking it up.

As a reader, I'm mildly interested in telling. That's a good thing, but there's a point where too much telling is a bad thing. There was a lot of narration in this story and a lot of year-jumping. For example, one character named Raven was 9 in chapter 31, and then all of a sudden in chapter 33 I read that she's 14. Whoa! This book includes a span of probably about 20 years or so, and that just seems to be too much for one book. I felt like I was reading a lot of "backstory" to get to the good stuff. Once I got past the halfway point, the story finally started, and as a busy mom, I felt a little robbed by all the narration I had to go through to get to the good stuff. I think this book could've easily been made into two or three books, and as a result Lucinda could've really fleshed out some of the topics, the characters, (and backstory) and kept my attention a lot easier.

Ultimately, what I as a reader want is some showing. Don't tell me about the people trying to get into Haven; SHOW me who they are. I want to be able to see their expressions, know their frustrations. Give me some more description, and some dialog.

The last quarter of the story was very moving. I was satisfied with how it ended, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I was wanting to know what happens to the rest of the characters. Hopefully Lucinda will keep writing this story but take it a little slower with the next books. :)

The copy that I received was an e-book version. I was given the opportunity to read and review this book for free for Media Guests. My comments and opinions are my own; I was not required to give a positive review.

To read more reviews of Echoes of Savanna, click the button below.

1 comment:

  1. Author Lucinda Moebius wanted to leave a comment, but she was unable to do so. She was able to email me her response, so I'm including it here:

    Thank you for the review. This is my first book and I agree I was a little too ambitious in some of the themes I introduced. The premise of the book was to establish a foundation for many other future books. The first five novels of the book follow the characters on the hero's journey and covers twenty years of the character's life. At times it became difficult to know what points to summarize and what parts of the life to highlight.

    One of the great things you mentioned in your review was the secondary characters. I deliberately wrote this book from the third person limited and kept the secondary characters slightly flat. The premise of this series is to introduce characters and allow my readers to write their back-story. I want to write with my readers and encourage a culture of readers and writers.

    Thank you again for the review. I do take everything in and apply the lessons learned to improve my writing. Raven's Song (the second book in the series) is much more focused and really expresses the events that teach Raven to be a strong woman in a crumbling society.

    Lucinda Moebius


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