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Review: Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Fledgling (Theo Waitley, #1) (Liaden Universe, #12)Fledg­ling (Theo Wait­ley, #1) by Sharon Lee
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

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 of 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.

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