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jenryland

jenryland

Starglass - Phoebe North Starglass is an intelligent and thought-provoking book with a timeless feel, a sci-fi story that is rich with coming-of-age and political themes. As the book opens, Terra is angry and heartbroken at her mother's untimely death, and chafes at all the restrictions placed on her by the ship's Council, which controls reproduction and assigns jobs to all residents. As the story unfolds, Terra is drawn into a life-or-death struggle between opposing factions on the ship.For book set on a spaceship, there isn't a strong sci-fi vibe -- I was expecting talk of stuff like particle accelerators and thrust vector control. Because the ship's residents have been on the ship for centuries, they're more like a social experiment in isolation than a futuristic society. And indeed, Starglass is more focused on human behavior than cool gadgets, using the Asherah as a setting in which competing social factions plot and clash. After Terra stumbles on a murder, she's placed right in the crossfire, pulled in one direction by those who appeal to her rebellious side and by others who appeal to her romantic one.Starglass is definitely strong on characterization. The book does not offer obvious heroes and villains, but a group of characters who are complex and multi-faceted. In many ways, Terra is a typical teenager, her mood alternating between prickly and ebullient. In other ways, she seems like a relic beamed in from the past. Absent any modern technology or cool space age gadgets, Terra perches in a tree with her sketchbook, dreaming of the boy who will come and sweep her off her feet. But as the book progresses, she definitely has to face some unpleasant truths about her community, her family, and even herself.Starglass is beautifully written and raises interesting political and philosophical issues. How can a small, fragile society balance order with freedom, the need for practicality and survival with a human yearning for joy? Starglass serves up plenty of thought-provoking questions, but doesn't offer any glib and easy answers.