[I actually wrote this post almost a month ago, but somehow forgot to publish it!]
I know my posts have been sporadic* of late -- this past week, I started a new job (which is basically the same job I had before, except full-time, and at a different branch). The good news is that I will actually be working a regular schedule, so hopefully I'll be able to post more regularly too. So, today, I'll start trying to cut down my backlog of reviews, starting with Sharon Shinn's General Winston's Daughter.
I discovered Sharon Shinn soon after I started working at the library -- back in those innocent days when my library card wasn't always full, and I could roam the shelves and pick books at random. I highly recommend her YA trilogy (starting with The Safe-Keeper's Secret) and Summers at Castle Auburn, though I've never really been able to get into her adult series. General Winston's Daughter, however, is a stand-alone novel, and, while taking place in an different universe from ours, reads more like a historical novel than a fantasy.
As the novel begins, Averie, our heroine, is in route to Chiarrin, a neighboring country that has recently been colonized by the Aebrian army, to join her father (the general mentioned in the title), and her fiance Morgan. On the long boat trip, however, she becomes acquainted with Lieutenant Ket Du'kai, who is also a member of the Aebrian army, but is from another neighboring country that was colonized a hundred years earlier, and from her discussions with him, she begins to question her country's role in these other nations (and, of course, she begins to have feelings for him). Once in Chiarrin, she becomes enamored with their culture and even begins dressing like a Chiarrizi woman. But things aren't all as they seem in Chiarrin, and a revolution is brewing...
This novel can be read on multiple levels. On the surface, it is an engrossing romantic read, a story of a young girl and her choice between two very different men. But, digging a little deeper, Shinn also presents a thought-provoking discussion of colonialism, and, perhaps, even a veiled criticism of our current occupation in Iraq. This is not a topic that I've seen before in YA lit (though if you know of any other examples, please, leave a comment), and while I hate to suggest that any novel is "good for" teens**, I do think this is an important topic for them to be introduced to. At times, this lesson seemed to be a little too overt, but this may be my own academic background (I majored in Hispanic studies -- which is basically cultural studies in Spanish), and teens might not find it to be quite as obvious.
I'm curious to see what other readers though of this one. Anyone else read it yet? Let me know in the comments.
*And by sporadic, I mean non-existent.
**In the sense that eating your vegetables is "good for you"