Posted on July 15, 2008 by alanajoli
Normally I don’t like to read books in a series out of order–the exception being when I’m reviewing them. I’ve got a couple of second novels that I picked up still lingering on my bookshelves, waiting for me to pick up book one. So it always impresses me when a second or third entry in a series can pick up the story without making you feel like you’re adrift (if you’ll excuse the pun). Heroes Adrift does it incredibly successfully, and though our heroes spend the whole book out of their element, the reader catches up to the action in the first few pages. Those same pages make me want to go back and read Moore’s earlier entries in the series, because the voice of Shield Lee and her presentation of her partner in heroism (and denied-crush) Taro, a Source, are incredibly engaging. It’s definitely the pair of protagonists (again, a pun–in the world a Shield and Source are called a Pair) that are the most enchanting part of the book.
As the novel begins, Lee is sharing her love of bench dancing–a competitive sport rather than a performance style–with readers, introducing us to something that will be a major theme throughout the book without letting us know it will play a part. It feels like a natural introduction to the world: Shields, who have a way to psychically protect the Sources who can stave off natural disasters with their minds, are trained at an early age to bench dance, because it helps their concentration. In a culture where Pairs don’t need any practical skills–their calling enables them to live for free: no taxes, no fees, no paying for anything–bench dancing is a hobby for Lee rather than a profession. But when the Empress sends Lee and Taro to the bizarre and distant Flatwell to locate a missing line of Imperial blood and bring it home, Lee discovers that her dancing is the one skill she can barter. She and Taro also discover a young girl who can channel, as Sources do, without a Shield, which is unheard of, so despite the girl’s penchant for thievery, they decide to take her home. The relationship that deepends between Lee and Taro (heightened romantic tension, even when it seems their relationship may be changing its status quo!), and the relationship between the two of them and the young Aryne, are the core of the story–the plot that goes on around them is interesting, but seems to teeter off near the end. In this way, the book ends like a chapter in anyone’s life: the immediate quest is done, but things are changed, and now we have to move on, not quite resolved in the way we thought things were going. In the novel, however, it’s frustrating: not only are we left a bit adrift (there, I’m using the title again) about Aryne’s fate, but the changed relationship between Taro and Lee is inconclusive as well. Because there have already been two entries in the series, I’m certain that both of those threads will continue into Moore’s next novel, but it was a disappointment to have the book wander into a conclusion after starting off so strongly as an independent story.
To be fair, however, I was only disappointed by the ending because I wanted to read more. So maybe I should give Moore credit for that after all. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on her–and picking up the two earlier novels as well.
Review by Alana Abbott