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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Maelstrom by McCaffrey and Scarborough

Maelstrom (Book Two of The Twins of Petaybee) by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. New York: Del Rey, 2006. ISBN: 978-0-345-47004-1

This is but the latest in McCaffrey and Scarborough's series of ecological science fiction novels set on the planet of Petaybee, a literal Gaia, which is to say, a sentient planet. The planet itself is not only capable of communicating directly with its inhabitants, it also molds the surface to support and sustain them.

The original humans living there are an unlikely mixture of Eskimo and Irish cultures, and the basic climate is fairly Arctic in nature. Now an abandoned group of native Hawaiians (or are they South Sea Islanders?) is invited to come to Petaybee, together with the Honus, their totemic animals, the magnificent sea turtles.

Only, when the Petaybeean emissaries reach the desolate and inhospitable planet where the sea people are desperately clinging to life, they find a second group of islanders with an altogether different totemic animal, namely a group of fiercely predatory and very hungry sharks!

What will Petaybee's reaction be to unleashing these creatures among its denizens? This is only one of the numerous troubles, trials and tribulations that get thrown at our favorite Petaybeean protagonists, the shape-changing Murel and Ronan, the so-called Twins of Petaybee, after whom this second set of Petaybeean novels is named. Catastrophic events just keep piling on, one after the other, and not many of them have been resolved by the time we get to the end of the book. Several more sequels seem inevitable, which will be good news for die hard fans of the series.

Although the series as a whole tends more than a wee bit towards the overly sentimental and even saccharine at times, especially with all of the animals able to talk to each other, and to at least some of the humans, the basic premise is nevertheless an intriguing one, and the action pretty much nonstop. The ecological premises on which the stories are based provide another positive reason for praising them. The series will be enjoyed by both young adult and older adult readers alike. Definitely recommended. Don't start with this volume though; if you're new to the series, you should begin at the beginning and work your way through the books in sequence.

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