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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Acorna: The Unicorn Girl . . . and more

Acorna: The Unicorn Girl (1997) and Acorna's Quest: The Adventures of the Unicorn Girl (1998) by Anne McCaffrey and Margarget Ball, and Acorna's People: The Further Adventures of the Unicorn Girl (1999) by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers. ISBNs (paperback editions, respectively): 0-06-105789-4, 0-06-105790-8, 0-06-105983-8.

I had read some of the Acorna books shortly after they were published, but then I hadn't kept up with the series, which now runs to 10 volumes, if you include the new “Acorna's Children” series. So when I ran across the first three volumes in a friend's library, I couldn't even remember for sure how far in the series I'd gotten. So, thinking I ought to catch up with the series, I borrowed the first three, and read all of them. Frankly, a mistake. I now realize (again) why I abandoned the series in the first place.

The basic story idea is cute, don't get me wrong. Little unicorn girl is found in the vastness of space, and is raised by two space rats, rough and ready asteroid miners with the proverbial hearts of gold. But it's the REST of the story that depresses me, or worse yet, bores me. The milieu in which they supposedly live and operate. Here's this planet full of oppressed and abused children, forced to slave away in the mines, and in other horrible ways, forced into other kinds of slavery as they get older. And Acorna, naturally, becomes their savior. And turns their society upside down, with a little (actually a LOT) of help from her friends.

It's just too hokey, and not very realistic. And what's the point of it all? Then there's one of the miner's rich uncles, who lives a lavish Arabic type lifestyle, and originally wants to add Acorna to his collection of eccentricities and oddities. But becomes her biggest supporter and fan, once he actually gets to know her. All of this side stuff, not directly relevant to the Acorna story I find tedious, irrelevant, poorly plotted, and just plain distracting. It's not really worth putting up with the secondary plots just to get to the primary story line.

I did manage to wade through the first two books AGAIN, just so I could get to the third one, which I hadn't previously read. In that one, she finally finds her own kind, but they turn out to be pretty suspicious, and she, of course, having been raised in human society, doesn't know how to behave or act like one of them. Major cultural adjustment required.

Not to mention that her people are pretty neurotic in many ways. But then, I guess you would be too, if some evil alien race had tried to totally torture, maim, brutalize, and otherwise destroy, your race. The experience of the unicorn people, too, is more than just a little over the top. Not very believable, to be honest.

You know how this entire storyline affected me? Just like I hate the kind of comedy, so often found in sitcoms or so-called romantic comedies, which generate their humor by putting people in amazingly embarrassing situations, so here, I found myself hating to have to wade through the parts of the storyline that are seemingly trying to play on my sympathy, by putting someone (the human children in the first story, or Acorna's people in the third one) in a truly awful, horrible, situation, just so that we can rejoice when they're saved from it.

Not my cup of tea. I don't think I'll bother with any of the remaining books in the series. There's just too much else out there I'd rather be reading than this.

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