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Monday, November 27, 2006


Expendable by James Alan Gardner

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

March 19, 2001

I bought this book because the concept intrigued me, but I just naturally assumed that it would be one of those books where the concept is better than the writing. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. Expendable is an exciting book that kept me turning page after page until the end and left me thirsting for more.

The key to this book is the key to any first-person yarn, that we enjoy listening to the narrator. Our narrator, Festina Ramos is a woman forced into an almost meaningless life of landing on planets until she is killed, all because of a birthmark on her face. Ramos, however, does not spend the whole book mired in self-pity about her lot in life. She's tortured by her demons, but always presses on, and that makes her respectable in my opinion, and so it was easy to charge through 335 pages in a couple of days.

Some say the plot is thin with plenty of holes, but I didn't see it that way. It was a tight adventure story that didn't take itself too seriously. There were no long lectures about physics and temporal mechanics, just a decent novel fueled by adventure, action, and mystery.

A couple of points that did annoy me: 1. The way that each chapter had different sections with subheadings really made the narration seem choppy.

2. Is there some kind of unhealthy obsession that makes SF writers in Canada write about immortal people made of glass? This is the third straight book I've read featuring immortal see-through people. The first two were "FlashForward" and "Starplex" by Canadian SF author Robert Sawyer, so it just seems like there has to be some kind of connection. In Sawyer's books, the immortal see-through people thing was an irritating tangent, but in Expendable, the transparent woman named Oar adds some humor and a kind of tragic element to the story.

Overall, Expendable is a very enjoyable book, I was pleasantly surprised and very disappointed that I spent so little on a beat-up used copy of it. For a good read that's not overly taxing on your brain and very entertaining, I highly recommend this book.

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