Friday, January 27, 2012

Unfurl by Cidney Swanson

After I reviewed both Rippler and Chameleon here, Cidney Swanson was so kind as to give me a copy of the last book, Unfurl. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Needless to say, I love Unfurl as much as I love the previous two books.

One way of looking at the series is that Rippler and Chameleon were the 'scene-setting' books, where we're introduced to the characters and really get to know them (and see Will and Samantha (Sam) fall in love). Unfurl on the other hand, will be the action book, because that's where the fight against Helmann is out in the open (no more need for background information.

The book begins with Sam and Will apart - Sam in Las Abs and Will in France. They pine over each other, as people in love are supposed to do, but thankfully, the book is so much more than an "I Miss You" refrain. Sam's rippling abilities are getting stronger, and now, she can hear the thoughts of those with Rippler's Syndrome and Will is rippling faster. Both of them undergo separate but related paths in the struggle against Geneses and Helmann that come together for a satisfying resolution.

The pacing of the book was great. Despite the alternating viewpoints, there wasn't an information overload and it was easy to remember what was going on. It made sense that events moved so quickly, because the first two books had set the stage, so to speak, for the war. Plot-wise, this is the most important book of the series, although to just read this book alone means you'll miss all the lovely character developement in the other two books.

This isn't to say that the book relies on plot alone, or that Rippler and Chameleon are character-based along, but I'm just saying that this is what seems to be emphasised to me. And that's what I like about it. I don't like series that are overly long and draggy (this is one story, unlike those multi-story series, which are different) or too fast paced and try to cram in every conceivable action scene. The Rippler series strikes a satisfying balance between plot and character.

Plus, it seems that in Unfurl, there is a greater emphasis on Catholicism. Now, Cidney isn't a Catholic (it's there in the book), but it's quite necessary when you have characters from 14th century France. The treatment of the religion was very sensitively handled, and treated with the respect due.

I do wonder, if the book can be considered pro-life in a way. Now, there are no teenage pregnancies (or any pregnancy in the book), but the topic of cloning and eugenics appear. Come to think of it, it's actually a really good series to use to introduce these two topics to others. But I just want to quote the three paragraphs that impacted me:

"I knew what he meant to do. Hans would accomplish the task I'd come here to perform. But the task felt completely different now that I'd seen that possible - Sam: the one who could grow to maturity free from my pain. I'd seen her, and there was no way to pretend I hadn't.

As I watched him destroy the tiny organism, felt his horrible delight, I was glad I hadn't had to do it myself. It was the difference between obseving a kill and pulling the trigger. I didn't know what the law said about week old bastocysts, but I knew Hans intent was murderous.

It put my step-mother's annual heartache about a misarriage in a completely different light. I hadn't understood why she felt sad about someone she'd never met. But I got it now. She grieved for someone she had seen, if only in her imagination."
At the risk of giving some major spoilers, I have to set the scene in context. Sam travels back to a Geneses lab to get her egg back before it's fertilised with Helmann's sperm. Unfortunately, it's already been fertilised but Hans has decided to betray his Father's wishes. But the passage speaks to me about the importance of life, and that's what Eugenics and Cloning cover - who has the right to give life (cloning) or take it away (eugenics)?

All in all, this series is a must-read. I may have taken a fairly long time to even start reading the books, but once I started, there was no way to stop. Rippler has realistic characters, a suitably evil villian and a great storyline. Basically, it has all the elements to make me happy.

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