So I guess summer must be over, because I have just finished the last book in my summer reading list. The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey is the first book in the Tower and the Hive series, and I’ve read itcountless times, though it has been years since I last picked it off the shelf.
The Rowan is the sole survivor of a natural catastrophe in a small mining community on Altair. Buried in a mudslide, her plight triggers her telepathic abilities on such a massive scale that every talented person on Altair is forced to listen to her psionic wails for her mother. Recognizing her as a Prime, considerable resources is put into rescuing her. She is brought up to be a Prime, to work for the FT and T (Federated Telepaths and Teleporters) using her telekinetic abilities to send and catch what is transported around the Nine Star League. Lusena, a child therapist, is appointed as her caregiver, and she grows up in her household. When she is 12 she moves into Altair’s Tower to begin her training, training under Siglen, Altair’s current Prime. Rowan grows up lonely, she has no real family, no real friends, and even as an adult she finds it hard to make a connection with people. Well, that is, until she meets Jeff Raven, a new unknown T1 from Deneb. They fall in love and together have to rally the Nine Star League into action when aliens attacks.
Not for the first time during this summer I feel like I have changed since last reading the book. I didn’t like The Rowan as much this time around. It feels stiff, arrogant and detached. Rowan’s emotions are explained but not really felt, there are some inconsistencies and don’t get me started on the whole love story thing. Two mental exchanges leaves Rowan and Jeff with a deep and permanent love for each other. It’s just too easy. But what do I know, perhaps a mental link of the sort Rowan and Jeff shares just expedite things along nicely.
I also have real trouble with the importance the book place on physical appearance. As is the case with many books, body size is used to indicate likability and worthiness. Siglen, Rowan’s mentor/teacher, is unbearable, has horrible tastes, lazy, overbearing, and is described as a slab on at least two occasions. Basically she is competent, but invites contempt more than acceptance. Rowan on the other hand is rail thin, tiny, large doe eyes and sweet, wise beyond her years, well-behaved, knows the right thing to do and say even at age 12. She is exceedingly smart and does no wrong at all and everyone loves her.
I feel a little disappointed that I couldn’t find back to the breath-held frantic page-turning I always experienced before, when The Rowan in the past. But it is still a good story, I like the concept, I like the world and most of the characters. Especially Isthia Raven, Jeff’s mother, and Afra Lyon (though I suspect that is mostly because I know what happens in the other books.) and I am definitely putting the sequel Damia on my bedside table.
But! I also have a long list of previously unread books on hold on my kindle. Books I want to read badly. Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig comes to mind. iD by Madeline Ashby as well. God so many books, so little time!
But I am also going to make an effort to read more of my shelved books from now on. There are some early Patricia Cornwell I can’t wait to get re-aquainted with and I have decided to give John Grisham another shot as well, though The Pelican Brief still rankles my mind, hell I might even dig out my old Stephen Kings.