Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: Evolution's Darling by Scott Westerfeld

Synopsis (via Goodreads):
"Does a clone have a soul?"

Darling, an astronavigational control unit and personal companion, achieves sentience and wants to know. Now, 200 years and an artificial body later, he is off in search of a dead artist, a living artwork, and the forces behind a mystery that spans the universe. Accompanied by a female assassin, he'll confront the Maker and get the answer.
My Thoughts:  This is one of those books that I'm not quite sure about.  I liked parts of it a lot and then there were parts that I was iffy on.  I am going to state, very clearly, that this is absolutely a sci-fi book.  And don't let Scott Westerfeld's name fool you into thinking it's YA.  It's not.  It's very firmly in the adult spectrum.  There's sex.  Lots of sex.  Lots of marathon sex that push the boundaries of what the human body can take.  No, it's not terribly graphic (I think everyone knows at this point that I have no problem with graphic sex in my books) but it's present in many forms.  And positions.  And not all the participants are human.  Take that as you will.

So.  What did I like?  I liked the idea that an Artificial Intelligence would become the darlings of evolution with their ability to evolve in short spaces of time.  I liked Darling's journey into self-awareness.  I liked that he achieved sentience by loving someone.  I liked Mira's ruthlessness.  I liked that she was splintered and fractured and had no past.

What was I iffy on?  It's been a while since I'd read a straight sci-fi book (aka: sci-fi with no sexy, spacefaring shapeshifters) and I had a hard time falling back into the more technical aspects of future-speak.  Sometimes when things start getting all quantum and pedagogical my eyes would glaze over and I'd get distracted by shiny things.  And, yes.  I did have to look up "pedagogy" in the dictionary.  Thanks for asking.  (Pedagogy: The function or work of a teacher; teaching)

I also wasn't thrilled with the ending.  It wasn't terrible, by any means, but it absolutely wasn't what I was expecting.  Which isn't a bad thing except that I've been reading a lot of paranormal romances and urban fantasies and the endings tend to be a little more ... hmm, predictable, maybe?  That's it- they tend to be a little more predictable as to how things are going to turn out.  So I pretty much didn't see the ending coming and I was caught off guard.

Overall, it was unexpectedly (and sometimes clinically) sexual and keeping up with the technical talk kept me on my toes.  Definitely more in the realm of old-school sci-fi than I've delved into recently.  Mind you, that's not a bad thing, just something that's different.  That said, this is one that will have to percolate a while before I know for sure whether I liked it or not.

More books by Scott Westerfeld

Reading challenges: The E-book Challenge, The TBR Challenge, The Morbid Romantica Challenge

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