Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Granted, Redworld: Year One

35068662Anderson, John David. Granted.
February 13th 2018 by Walden Pond Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is a young fairy in a very well-developed and complex fairy world. She is supposed to work as a Granter, but for a variety of reasons, not as many wishes are being granted lately. There are lots of protocols and procedures involving the assigning and granting of wishes, combined with a decrease in the general level of magic, attributing to this. When Ophelia finally gets an assignment, to provide a girl named Kasarah in Kettering, Ohio with a purple bike because hers was stolen. After careful preparations, Ophelia sets out, but runs into all manner of problems on her trip. To complicate matters, the coin on which Kasarah wished is very difficult to obtain, because a variety of people keep picking it up, and the rules clearly state that a wish cannot be granted without it. After running into even more problems, Ophelia meets a dog. She doesn't want to be licked or befriended, but the dog she names Sam thinks otherwise and ends up being very useful. After tracking the coin down to the home of Gabe and Anna, whose father is gone, Ophelia manages to get the coin, but not before the boy makes yet another wish on it. With the help of her friend Charlie, who leaves the fairy realm of Haven to look for her, Ophelia must decide what course of action is best... with or without the approval of her fairy supervisors!
Strengths: Sam makes this book for me. Anderson writes a dog voice that sounds almost exactly like Sylvie. (Yes, she "talks" to my daughters. In fact, she texts them frequently.) Like almost all Anderson titles, there is always one moment where I burst into tears; in this case it was this interchange between Ophelia and Sam: "Why are you following me?" "Because you are broken and lost and I licked you, so now we are friends." The detailed information about Haven, the wish granting process, fairy names, and other specifics (from uniforms to housing to procedures) are so complete that Ophelia and her world come to life brilliantly. The details about Sam and Gabe and Anna are very sweet, but I don't want to give too many of those away.
Weaknesses: Until we meet Sam, this is a bit slow. The world building of Haven and Ophelia's role within it is exquisitely done, but starting the book with Ophelia in the midst of her troubles in Kettering would have interested reluctant readers more quickly. Also, I wasn't fond of Kasarah, because the way she words her wish isn't sympathetic. I wish it had been, so I could have been more behind Ophelia's hard work to grant it.
What I really think: The fact that fairy books are really hit or miss in my library leaves me a bit conflicted about this title. I adore Anderson's work, but am not entirely sure to what students I can hand this. Will consider; I have time, since I've spent my entire budget for this year!

This series looks like it is actually comprised of four books, Homestead, Raiders, Tharsis City, and Legacy. I was suspicious of this when I was reading the book and there was a recap of events or who people were at the beginnings of what seemed to be chapters. This makes the books a much more manageable length, but confuses matters when reviewing the book, since I read it as one book.

cover_imageCollins, A.L. Redworld: Year One
February 1st 2018 by Capstone Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Belle, her robot Melody, and her family move to Mars so that her parents can work for BAMcorp in the big, fancy city, but right after arrival, they are "made redundant". Not wanting to flee back to earth (although Belle is okay with that), the family buys a farm and heads out into the "wild west". They have a hover wagon pulled by horsel (a camel horse hybrid), which is big enough to sleep in. This is a good thing, since their house is a shack on the windswept Martian prairie. Luckily, neighbors Lucas (who is half Sulux) and Myra happen by and show them the the shack is really just the "front porch" for a much nicer, more modern living space below. There are still a lot of similarities to US pioneering life, and Belle soon finds herself at a small school. She takes a liking to classmate Ta'al, who is Nabian, and doesn't understand why the other children ignore her. She gets assigned to work on a science fair project with Lucas, and has to work on an agriculture project involving turken chicks instead of improving her previous science fair winner, Petripuffs. (Small balls that, when thrown, release a toxin that paralyzes the victim for 30 seconds. They are mentioned a LOT.) When Raiders appear to steal Belle's family's water, Belle gains a wolf dog and manages to disprove the widespread notion that Nabian's are Raiders. When her mother realizes she is pregnant, the family needs to travel to Tharsis City for a doctor's appointment. Lucas and Ta'al's families decide to come along, and the groups run into problems when both Raider, the wolf dog, and Melody are kidnapped and must be rescued. In the final book, Belle finds an archaeological site that proves that at one point, the Sulux and Nabian people were friends, which helps the two groups make peace and finally get along.
Strengths: This had some interesting world building (sort of like Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky), and the mix of Little House on the Martian Prairie and science fiction elements was interesting. Belle is constantly getting herself into trouble, which will appeal to tween readers. They will also wish that they had a robot like Melody who could tell them bad jokes but but also save them from wolves. There is a good message about prejudice and understanding people who might be different from you. The families are all supportive, and positive. There is a little about terraforming and agriculture on Mars, which was interesting as well.
Weaknesses: I'm not the target demographic, and expect my science fiction to be more sophisticated. More details about terraforming, new technologies, and innovations would have improved this for me personally, even though younger readers will just like the adventure and the old school tech. I had trouble believing that Belle's family would sell vegetables and skeins of wool they spun at the market, the message about prejudice was really heavy handed, and at one point I thought I was reading a plot synopsis of Land of the Lost. I also firmly believed that after her first ill-advised adventure, Belle would have probably perished and not been able to go on other ill-advised adventures.
What I really think: Probably shouldn't have read this while I was listening to Weber's Off Armageddon Reef. The exciting intrigue and unique technologies in that adult book made Redworld seem a bit lacking. (The whole idea of a PICA...wow.)  I can see my students really enjoying this, and I can appreciate all the work that was done to make this appealing to middle grade readers and am interested to see if this series will be longer than four books.

This comment appeared on Goodreads under Angie's review, and helps a bit:
Thanks for your honest review. I urge you to give the book another chance once the final version is released on 2/1/18. The ARC that was released was a simple compilation of four individual school library titles. The final version will have much of the repetitive information removed to make a smoother story. Also, the action picks up more in later parts of the book. Belle explores more parts of her new home world and becomes entangled in several adventures.

I hope that you'll like the final version better.


Aaron J. Sautter
Senior Editor
Capstone Publishing

Ms. Yingling

No comments:

Post a Comment