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Navigating The Stars Paperback – 19 November 2018
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About the Author
When Maria V. Snyder was younger, she aspired to be a storm chaser in the American Midwest so she attended Pennsylvania State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology. Much to her chagrin, forecasting the weather wasn't in her skill set so she spent a number of years as an environmental meteorologist, which is not exciting…at all. Bored at work and needing a creative outlet, she started writing fantasy and science fiction stories. Over a dozen novels and numerous short stories later, Maria's learned a thing or three about writing. She's been on the New York Times bestseller list, won a half-dozen awards, and has earned her Masters of Arts degree in Writing from Seton Hill University, where she is now a faculty member.
Her favorite color is red. She loves dogs, but is allergic, instead she has a big black tom cat named…Kitty (apparently naming cats isn't in her skill set either). Maria also has a husband and two children who are an inspiration for her writing when they aren't being a distraction. Note that she mentions her cat before her family. When she's not writing she's either playing volleyball, traveling, or taking pictures. Being a writer, though, is a ton of fun. Where else can you take fencing lessons, learn how to ride a horse, study martial arts, learn how to pick a lock, take glass blowing classes and attend Astronomy Camp and call it research? Maria will be the first one to tell you it's not working as a meteorologist.
Readers are welcome to check out her website for book excerpts, free short stories, maps, blog, and her schedule at MariaVSnyder.com.
You can also follow Maria on Facebook and Goodreads.
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None of the characters were terribly realistic. Lyra comes across as a thirteen year old, rather than the supposed 17 she is. She pouts constantly. Everything she tackles she is amazingly good at. She makes more archaeological breakthroughs than her parents, the experts. She hacks the Q-net in a 'unique' manner, getting it to do things that no one else has ever thought to ask it (Say what now????) Oh, and she is pretty much an army of one - much more effective than an entire security squadron - yeah, that's not incredulous at all.
Her parents gave me whiplash. Their complete disregard for their daughter's mental health was breathtaking in their selfishness. But then they play the parent card and are suddenly all affectionate and worried. Not once did they say sorry, or even have a conversation about how Lyra might feel having to leave her friends constantly (because of travel space times in a few short weeks most of them will be dead).
Then there is Niall, the love interest. Actually - he is the only possible choice she has. Not a single other male exists within her age range on this trip so... yeah, what a shocker they got together. They initially dislike each other, but time and circumstances (shockingly) change all that. And Frog and Toad? (I threw up a little in my mouth every time they used those terms of endearment)
Still, this managed two stars, mainly because the terracotta warrior aspect of the story was so cool - but I honestly feel the author could have used that hook for a whole different cast of characters and a way better more layered storyline much more effectively.
Snyder has a way of creating characters that I can't help but love flaws and all.
I found the world building in the first chapter a little slow but now I can't put it down. I will always recommend Maria V Snyder's books to everyone I meet!
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So follow my train of logic and you'll see why I'm baffled. In this universe space travel has a time dilation effect which means that a space ship travels for three months but arrives forty-five years after it departs. As a consequence our heroine when we first meet her is both seventeen (physical age) and one hundred and thirty+ (elapsed years since she was born.) Okay. I can deal with that. It's an interesting twist and Snyder does some interesting things with it. But at the outset of the book, space travel has been around for about four hundred years. So if you assume a space ship is active a moderate 50% of each year with maybe ninety years elapsing for each year (2 x 3month voyages as per the journey in the book) then for Niall to have been born and lived seventeen years on a ship - and never lived planetside - he would need to have been born 17 times ninety years in the past - that's about 1500 years plus change. Around the time of William the Conqueror!
And then there's the economics of running a space fleet which gives you a couple of good commutes per ship per century!
And when our heroine is injured and subsequently has to catch-up with her school work there's no reference to the impact of a forty-five year jump in curriculum content. And the character who left home at 18 to go to Earth and will arrive 95 years later... Is that the equivalent of someone who graduated high-school in 1923 rocking up to attend 2018 university?
And while I'm nit-picking, where does the food and water come from? Forty-five years from re-supply you'd think it would be an issue.
This book drove me crazy for the better part of a day. I don't mind suspending belief but it's hard to suspend basic arithmetic.
On the other hand I finished it because the story is well-paced and I liked the characters and I love the idea of a galaxy being guarded by terracotta warriors.
The intrigue and plot twists are fantastic. I love these characters and world. It has been fascinating. Highly recommend.