Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey

I rarely reread a book. There is just too much literature out there to read once that I can't waste time on any book twice. But, I broke my own rule to reread the first in Anne McCaffrey's Rowan series. A group of friends were reading it for a book group, I wanted to participate, and I didn't remember the details well enough without actually going through the whole book again. (Why I didn't remember the details is because a) it was almost eight years ago and b) it was during my first year of grad school and everything I did that year leaked out of my brains a long time ago - especially if it did not relate to school).

That having been said, I liked this book better the first time. Not that I have changed that much but my reasons for reading were different. The first time I read it as a complete escape from reality. I needed something different and removed from real life. In that vein, I really enjoyed the world and the story that Anne McCaffrey put forward. The Rowan takes place in a futuristic galaxy in which a percentage of humans have telekinetic power, ESP, and empathy. Those with Talents work to transport goods and services between planets.

This time I was reading the book with a goal in mind - to discuss it with other readers, not all of whom are science fiction fans. In that venue, I like the book less. It is still good escapist literature. But, it does not stand up as a stand alone book very well. Without all the other books in the series The Rowan seems poorly developed. The world is engaging but the characters need greater depth. And the ending is hurried and not as well developed as I would have liked.

For semi-science fiction fans, McCaffrey is best known for her Dragonridgers of Pern series. Like that series, these books are great for younger readers - post-young adult but too young for certain adult themes. This series does speak to a slightly older audience as the role of parenting is a key issue. I would give it to an avid junior high aged reader in a heartbeat.

An enjoyable second read. But not thrilling enough to make me pull out the rest of the series right now.

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