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Queen and Commander (The Hive Queen Saga)
By Janine A. Southard
About the Book:
Test Day, the big day where all sixteen year olds discover what society feels they should do for the rest of their lives simply based on the answers of the Test. And that is what those sixteen year olds will do no matter their personal plans or desires. No one can study for the test, or so society tells everyone, but maybe, just maybe, a Perceiver could if she was really,
really good at perceiving. And Rhiannon is exceptionally good. Today she will learn if she has fooled the Test enough to be chosen to be a Queen, a Queen to lead an entire hive.
Rhiannon's best friends had to take the test as well. What would the result be? Victor and Gwyn were in love but the results of the test will pull them apart. Victor is destined to be a Devoted, a man swore to a Queen and to no one else. No Queen would accept Gwyn and Victor since a Devoted must be completely devoted to his Queen.
Gavin, whose actor mother brought him to this world of Queens and Devoteds, can think of nothing but getting away. His problem and that of Victor and Gwyn could be solved because there is a ship in orbit that needs a new Queen and hive. All he has to do is find a Queen willing to take the three of them on and one that can qualify for the ship. Rhiannon just might be his ticket off this miserable planet.
If Rhiannon goes along with this scheme, she has to give up on all the free training at the university society has promised to her. Not only that, she has to find two more crew members willing to also give up their promised training. She must also qualify for the ship, something that will surely be contended for.
I love the easy style of Southard's writing. The story flows together into a gentle stream, carrying the reader along. The world and its ways are added in slowly so the reader doesn't even feel the stream as it builds beneath them in a river of a story. From the introduction of Test Day to the meaning of Perceiver, Devoted, and Queen to the various religions and mores of the planet Dyfed, Southard immerses the reader into this world. I never found myself wondering why or how because everything fell into place as I read.
The characters of the story are fully formed with some so complete I could become friends with them. I once fell so head or heals in love with a character in Heinlein's "Misfit" that I told everyone. Southard doesn't have a character I am in love with but her characters are complete enough that I could see them as friends.
While I enjoyed the plot and the execution of it, the too ready made solution to one of the climaxes left me a little less than overjoyed. Most readers, myself included, don't want a magic wand waved to solve the problem facing the characters. We want to see how the characters solve the problem. This is not a major complaint as the writing in this book, the characters, and the world building make this a good read.
I enjoyed this book. It is a good read for all ages and is an especially good fit for those who like YA science fiction.
Where to fine Janine Southard Website: http://www.janinesouthard.com