Title: The Best of All Possible Worlds
Author: Karen Lord
Year of publishing: 2014
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
A proud and reserved alien society (the Sadiri) finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world (Cygnus Beta), to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.
Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.
I think that if there's anything that I'm going to take away from this book, it's the smart and well-developed romance between two mature and fully realised people who can think for themselves. In the age of insta-love and angsty teenagers who mistake hormones for true love, it's so rewarding to read a love story that takes its time to develop and doesn't get tangled in the cobweb of tropes.
Storywise, this book is a little scattered. The story is all over the place. The main plot is about finding potential brides for the Sadiri men, but it breaks down into several parallel subplots, and the members of this expedition are often side-tracked. They end up solving crimes as well as personal problems. I'm not saying that these subplots don't have anything to do with the main plot - because they do - I'm just saying that as I was reading the book, I didn't get the feeling that the subplots were well-integrated with the story.
A lot of mythology and symbolism in the story, some of which I did not understand (especially towards the end).
There are two more things about this book, besides the romance, that I really like. One is the parallels with Jane Eyre, which are quite subtle at first, but get more obvious as the story progresses.
And the other is a name of one of the cities on Cygnus Beta.
Karaganda is a city in Kazakhstan. I don't know if Lord got her inspiration by studying the world map, or if this is just one cosmic coincidence. The point is, this little detail tickled some nostalgic nerve in me, which I liked.
Poetic, funny, sexy. This book raises interesting questions about race, identity and family, and it leaves you with a nice and warm feeling inside. Which is kind of ironic, since the story begins with a genocide.
My rating: 3,5 stars
Labels: adventure, Karen Lord, romance, science fiction