I actually started and read A Beautiful Friendship (Young Adult Science Fiction 352 pages)by David Weber around Wednesday of last week. As it turns out, sometimes I’m not very good about posting my reviews in a timely manner. I guess the point is that I post them, not necessarily that I don’t do it as quickly as I would like. Success is still success, no matter how long it takes.
This book was exactly the sort of brain candy that I needed to help make the outside world disappear. This is actually the second time I’ve read this book, and it was just as good this time around. I really like the setting and the world-building. I’m also of the opinion that introducing Stephanie Harrington and Lionheart is a fantastic way to continue telling stories in an existing universe without dealing with the extensive characters and political situation currently occupying the stories of Honor Harrington. Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy the Honor Harrington series, but I kind of feel like the universe is just so massive and the political situation so complicated these days that I’m only really comprehending a fraction of all the things that seem to be going on.
A Beautiful Friendship is as much about cross-cultural communication as it is about the most amazing of friendships. I’m always intrigued by how much we can learn about ourselves as humans and our interactions with our surrounding world by reading science fiction and fantasy novels. There are so many people out there who scoff at genre novels and I never really understood why. If anything, I have a lot more respect for genre novels than I do for “literary” novels because of the imagination and world-building that goes along with stories about learning how to get along with people who aren’t like us. The treecats are just as smart as humans, but the humans continue to perceive themselves as the superior race because they can’t find ways to demonstrate that the treecats can TALK. Because, you know. If you can’t talk, you must not be intelligent.
The descriptions and the writing style continue to make this story a fast read. Even though I knew what happened, I still couldn’t put the book down. It’s one of those books that will make you late for work, not go to bed on time, and ignore other tasks in your life.
I liked the characters. I’m a fan of characters who are interesting and intelligent. I think it’s pretty fantastic that Stephanie works hard on her studies and that she is given tasks that engage her on an intellectual level. She approaches the puzzle of the celery thieves from a completely different angle, never once doubting the intelligence of whoever or whatever those thieves are. This gives her a unique outlook when she finally discovers that the treecats are responsible for stealing the celery and that the reason they are so often successful is because humans rely on their technology to detect the thieves instead of doing field work themselves.
I see a lot of myself in Stephanie. I enjoy storms as much as she does. I don’t feel as though I’m nearly as smart as she is, nor do I feel like I am or could be as talented as she is on things like flying or fighting against a monster to save the life of someone she cares about. But perhaps if I spent time working on those things, they would come more naturally to me. I like reading stories with characters I can relate to and ones who seem to have the same sense of moral or ethical purpose as I do. Characters who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it’s convenient or anyone believes in them. And that’s exactly the kind of motivation I need these days.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a great deal. I’m glad I own it. I think I would have been terribly disappointed if I hadn’t had the second book in the series because I enjoy the world and the characters so much.