Books : reviews

Hilari Bell.
Roc. 2000

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 1 June 2004

Humanity has managed to repel the invading Vrell, but at desperate price to the planet, and themselves. So now a scientific team is off to contact colonies founded before the last devastating defence. Yet even there they find only death, until the colony on Navohar. Dr Irene Olsen must uncover the secret of Navohar to save the population on Earth. But the surviving colonists are strangely reluctant to help.

Some interesting societies, ecologies and biochemistry are explored as Irene struggles to find the truth. The solution is obvious to the reader, but only because we have the advantage of meta-knowledge: we know we have the necessary clues and not much more. Irene has no such advantage, but stubbornly gets there in the end. The rights and wrongs are laid out in fairly black and white terms, but some complexity is added by making sure the dividing line isn't simply ship's crew versus colonists. A very promising first novel.