False start (did not finish): page 60
I don’t often review books I don’t finish, because I feel like I can’t give the book a proper chance when I have only started it. After all, what am I missing at the end? That said, I put this one down with strong feelings of disappointment and frustration.
When it began, Horizon was a story about a lone woman with telepathic and empathic abilities who saves a man from dying on the ship he’s just crashed into her planet. Before page 60, it became a story about the last few years of her life, revealed through mind-melds between her and her crash-landed patient. Her memories reveal that her parents were killed in an accident, her city was razed and her people massacred in a genocidal attack against her people, the survivors were kidnapped, and she was raped.
The first part of the story had great potential. It read like Jane Lindskold’s Artemis Awakening: A planet that had in not-too-distant memory struggled through a terrible war, a heroine who is able to survive on her own in the wilderness, and a foreign starship carrying a man from a different world (literally).
Then it became a horror story about the terrible things humans do to each other, which is why I put the book down at page 60. The heroine’s recent history, explained through this mental connection she has with the extraterrestrial, is clearly meant to provide her with reasons to be in the wilderness alone when his ship crashes, and to give them an emotional bond and time to be alone to forge their relationship. (Any claims I make about anything that happens after page 60 are my own guesses, and absolutely not based in the text itself).
My objections are twofold: that there was so much needless (in my opinion) violence whose only purpose was to set up the plot, and that so much of the introductory chapters focused on the heroine’s tragic history instead of the current situation in which she finds herself. It felt like an infodump and too-convenient plotting rolled into one. The story I had been hoping to read was one about interplanetary relationships, an interpersonal relationship between two people from different planets, and some conflict arising out of both. Maybe this book becomes that book. I don’t know – I stopped reading at the rape scene.
Instead of this one, I would recommend…
Artemis Awakening has everything I was hoping for in Horizon. A young man from a outer space, unexpectedly landing in the wilderness of a different planet. A strong young woman, who guides him and teaches him about her civilization, even a telepathic bond with an animal! Lots of adventure, and the collision of two different cultures. Plus a very intriguing mystery.
One of the best books I’ve read about interspecies/interplanetary relationships starts the Foreigner series. This is not just about different races, or different civilizations: it chronicles one human’s work as liaison between his species, and a species that is so biologically different that there are certain things about each that will never make sense to the other.
For a really fun, romantic space opera about when telepathic, empathic, and clairvoyant humans explore the galaxy for other humanlike species, check out The Terrans. I loved it. Read my review by clicking on the book cover.