Title: Hollow Moon
Author: Steph Bennion
Genre: YA science-fiction
Hollow Moon is a terrific read with just the right amount of wit to give a light touch to a highly original dramatic science fiction story. The beginning grabbed me, then the pace slowed and for a while I wasn’t sure where the book was going, but it soon came together and a surprise twist (the first of several) grabbed me again and held me until the end. There is nothing predictable about this book. At the beginning, I thought it was a fairly simple story, but the plot kept thickening as I read, with new layers of intrigue coming in just when you thought you had it all worked out. Even the characters sometimes surprised me with their unexpected allegiances.
Blurb: Hollow Moon is a witty space opera mystery that tells the tale of Ravana, a teenage girl who has to grow up fast when she and her father become embroiled in a plot of interstellar intrigue. Having fled civil war sixteen light years away, Ravana and her father now live in the sleepy commune of the hollow moon, a forgotten colony ship drifting around Barnard’s Star. Yet what began as a minor escapade to rescue her electric cat soon leads to an incredible adventure into the shady dystopian world of politics, kidnappings and school band competitions. Hollow Moon is an adventure for all who relish a dose of humour and practical astrophysics with their fantasy…
Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of this book is the freshness of the author’s voice, a product of her unique vision, the astrophysical basis of the work and the well-modulated light touch that provides wit without making the work frivolous. Hollow Moon a refreshing change from the dark paranormal, dystopian and urban fantasies that populate the YA shelves. Our heroine is no simpering female who needs someone to rescue her, but neither is she of the hard-nosed bitch mould seen so often in urban fantasy. She has a healthy and endearing mix of intelligence, guts, compassion and vulnerability.
Apart from Ravana, my favourite characters were her electric cat, who eats the insides of machines, and the brilliant and besotted son of her tutor when he’s in his birdman suit.
Bennion’s world building is excellent. The plot is well constructed and her characters are well-rounded, easy to relate to and entertaining. As in all good novels, the characters grow from their experiences and the end sewed things up nicely while leaving open the possibility of more to come. The underlying theme is how the politics of profit, power and religion can create the kind of corruption that has politicians saying they want peace while actively working to prevent it. A good reminder not to take politicians at face value.
The main issue I had with this work was that it had a severe case of head-hopping that flung this reader from the thoughts of one character into another and back again in quick succession. We even went into minor characters points of views for one sentence here or there. This often had me rereading passages to work out whose point of view (POV) I was currently following, an action that dragged me out of the story.
The only other issue is that the author also overused the word was. Some simple restructuring so that, for example, was sprinting became sprinted, would make such sentences more immediate and therefore more engaging.
If you don’t mind a bit of head-hopping, then buy the book, because even with it, it’s a great read.
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