Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Crystal Singer (Crystal Singer #1)" by Anne McCaffrey

This is one of my favorite book covers
This was originally published in Roger Elwood's Continuum Series (a sci-fi anthology in 1975) and was later converted to book format (1982).

Anne McCaffrey's specialty has always been the strong heroines she seemingly effortlessly created. I'm always ready to read her books due to that, as well as the interesting sci-fi stories she always seemed to come up with. She also provides more than one love interest for the heroine, though in this case we never end up with a fully blown love triangle.

A Crystal Singer is someone who harvests (and cuts) crystals that are used for instantaneous communication in this story. They must be musically inclined to be able to cut the crystal without ruining it, and be willing to stay in the same career for the rest of their lives.

The Plot:
After ten years perfecting her voice, Killashandra Ree's dreams of being a top-rank singer are thwarted by her teacher, Maestro Valdi and a panel of vocal experts. Unable to handle the disgrace of taking a second tier job, she goes to the spaceport of her planet to travel some other place. She meets Carrik, a man of seemingly endless wealth, when both of them hear a crystal in a shuttle failing. Killashandra then vacations with him, finding out he's a Crystal Singer just as his health begins to wane, and decides she wants to become one herself. But when someone joins the Crystal Singers, they rarely, if ever, leave the planet...

When I first read this book, I really liked the heroine, but during the reread for this review her personality seemed a bit overbearing. That said, I've met many people like Killashandra Ree, so her persona isn't unrealistic, it's simply arrogant (and naive and slightly annoying). But by the end of the book, she was in my good graces again due to her bravery.

What sets this book apart from many other sci-fi novels is it's musicality. A significant aspect of this book is that the heroine has perfect pitch, and that is a requirement to be a Crystal Singer because it helps the Singer cut the crystals. More often, the qualities wanted in a main character of a book are more mundane, like being physically strong, or more supernatural, like telepathy, but in this book it's best if you have good pipes.

Crystal Singer introduces us to a world reliant on crystals for their technology, differing vastly from our reliance on manufacturing technology, in that the crystals must be mined and are naturally occurring. While it does provide a unique world concept, it often lacks a sense of urgency (and/or a save the world plot) that many other sci-fi novels embrace. If you're looking for an interesting sci-fi coming of age story, this may be your book.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great science fiction adventure.

Content: Mentions of sex and mild violence, Ages 16+

Page Count: 311 pages in my edition

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