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Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey

All right, it’s going to be a throwback this week since I haven’t had time to read anything new after my sprint at the end of last week :-). I read a lot of Anne McCaffrey when I was younger (who didn’t, really?), including all of the Dragonrider books (yes, every single last one of them, including all the short stories), but this is not a Dragonrider shoutout; this is a shoutout to a different little world in the Federated Sentient Planets universe! I will be the first to admit that I don’t know enough about music and physics to know if this plot is possible, but it seems cool from a layman’s perspective! And it’s got a strong (not perfect) female character, what else do you need? HA!

Title: Crystal Singer
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Pages: 311 (paperback)
Setting: A planet in the Federated Sentient Planets that has valuable and very sensitive crystals on it, as well as a nasty little parasite. The planet, Ballybran, has these crystals that are vital to space travel, but can only be mined by people with perfect pitch. Ballybran is generally a scary place (hurricane-force storms, parasite/symbiont that infects everyone) with great riches for those who are lucky enough to survive! Oh, and they have to have perfect pitch, doh.
Premise: Killashandra Ree does have perfect pitch, yey! And she’s been working her butt off to become a crazy awesome singer person, but she’s not quite perfect enough. Instead of spending her life in choirs (ie not in the spotlight), she decides to go to this mysterious planet that offers riches beyond imagining and for some reason requires the recruits to have perfect pitch. She doesn’t know much beyond that and that not many people ever come back from the planet… awesome!

Strengths:

  • Unique premise! I’ve personally never heard this story premise before, and the little bits I know about physics and music didn’t cringe when I read the book, so I think that McCaffrey pulls off this interesting premise fairly well
  • Strong female character, good role model for adolescent girls! And fun to read for everyone else
  • Good world-building. If there is something that McCaffrey is good at, it’s coming up with interesting places to put her characters and fleshing the world out
  • Easy read :-) It’s obviously written for teens, which might turn away some high-brow readers, but it makes it a nice ride for the rest!
  • I seem to recall an entertaining mentor figure, who doesn’t love a good mentor, huh?

Weaknesses:

  • There is a distinct possibility that this strong female character is a little bit more whiny than your average…. I mean she didn’t want to sing in the background and decided to go risk her life instead….  
  • It is McCaffrey teen reading so the plot isn’t all that twisty turny, in fact I recall it being quite straightforward
  • The downside to easy reading is that you are definitely not going to grow intellectually when you read this, double promise. 
  • To people more edu-ma-cated in physics and music, there could be soul cringing details that ruin the story for you, I just don’t know.

Summary: If you are able to take this book for what it is (a mildly entertaining teen sci-fi/fantasy), and aren’t too sensitive to slightly spoiled characters, then it is great fun to read! I would highly recommend it as a during-the-term book just to take a break from all that learning that you are doing. And it is fun to deviate from standard sci-fi/fantasy themes with a little music related sci-fi :D.

Happy reading!
-A

© 2011 – 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. This is one of my favorite books ever, and it was the one responsible for getting me into sci-fi. Killashandra does strike me as a bit bitchy, but at the same time I can respect her because she’s good at what she does. McCaffrey does an excellent job of creating career-oriented female characters.

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