I half-listened to part of this book as Sam Chupp podcast it, chapter by chapter. For some reason, it just didn’t catch my fancy back then. I think I didn’t let it catch my fancy, because of knowing that I would have to wait for each chapter to be released. Now, though, having it all finished and edited, it’s clearly a polished Lee and Miller novel of the Liaden Universe, and I love those.
It’s also something of a young adult novel, but don’t let that put you off. Theo is an interesting character who begins growing up in Fledgling (Theo Waitley, #1). She’s 14, and she has never been off Delgado, a Safe World. Her own world is made up entirely of the University and academia, with both parents being professors. The fact that her parents live outside the Wall, in a house rather than in University housing, is unusual.
As the book opens she has to deal with major life changes. For the sake of her career, her mother, Kamele, has chosen to leave her father’s house and move back to the University with Theo. Delgado is a matriarchal society, and Theo is expected to stop acknowledging her father as anyone but Professor Jen Sar Kiladi.
To make matters worse, Theo is considered “physically challenged,” with too-fast reflexes that cause frequent accidents. The University wants Kamele to agree to drug Theo “for her own good,” but the supposedly safe drugs have unacceptable and permanent cognitive effects. (Those familiar with the Liaden Universe novels will recognize Theo’s “problems” as coming from growing into pilot reflexes.) Kamele’s career situation has political ramifications that blow back onto poor Theo as well, which the girl doesn’t need.
Theo deals with all of the above and more in believable and admirable ways. She stretches and shows herself to be growing into a remarkable young lady, fit to be the subject of a Liaden Universe novel. I’m glad I have Saltation (Theo Waitley, #2) on hand, because I look forward to seeing more of who she grows up to be.