Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Book Review - Alouette's Song, Second Edition, by Andrew Jonathan Fine

Inspirational fiction is traditionally couched in terms of a romance, with an occasional mystery. Alouette's Song is the first I've seen that combines inspirational with traditional science fiction. It should be an encouragement to anyone who'd like to write inspirational fiction but doesn't want to fit into the usual romance mould. This new edition has been considerably tightened up, and avoids the main flaw I found in the first edition.

Viewed as science fiction, it's a strong piece of work, very much in the tradition of the early Heinlein. Purely on this basis I feel sure the book will find an enthusiastic readership. It's exciting, it keeps moving and it resolves very nicely.

Read as inspirational fiction, though, Alouette's Song really shines. Perhaps because that's a genre that appeals more to me, or perhaps because inspirational/SF combination is rare, or perhaps because it's so nice to see inspirational fiction based on a faith other than Christianity, but none of these things fully accounts for my reaction to it. It's a deeply moving and informed story of a young man's struggles as he tries to ‘level up’ his observance of his religion, and very, very well done. Although not Jewish myself, I found a great deal of it personally relevant and helpful. I honestly can't recommend the book enough on this basis. Towards the end, a very nicely done explanation of the basics of Christianity is also given, although the main focus throughout the book is on Judaism.

I did feel the four young protagonists were a little too perfect; a bit too superhumanly good and self disciplined and moral, a bit too wise for their ages. This was particularly the case with Dorothy. I found her self-conscious superiority, at the age of nineteen, very hard to take, and it prevented me from finding her at all a sympathetic character.

Over against this, I absolutely loved the use of the multiple points of view with first person. It was very well executed, and almost never did I need to flip back to check who was speaking. I particularly liked the way the villain was portrayed, saving him from being a cardboard villain.

Overall, I liked Alouette's Song very, very much and I look forward to seeing more from this talented author.

Alouette's Song is available from AMAZON.

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