by Andrea K. Höst
Series: Touchstone trilogy–Stray, Lab Rat One and Caszandra plus Gratuitous Epilogue
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Published by Andrea K. Höst, 2011
Synopsis: On her last day of high school, Cassandra Devlin walked out of exams and into a forest. Surrounded by the wrong sort of trees, and animals never featured in any nature documentary, Cass is only sure of one thing: alone, she will be lucky to survive.
The sprawl of abandoned blockish buildings Cass discovers offers her only more puzzles. Where are the people? What is the intoxicating mist which drifts off the buildings in the moonlight? And why does she feel like she’s being watched?
Increasingly unnerved, Cass is overjoyed at the arrival of the formidable Setari. Whisked to a world as technologically advanced as the first was primitive, where nanotech computers are grown inside people’s skulls, and few have any interest in venturing outside the enormous whitestone cities, Cass finds herself processed as a ‘stray’, a refugee displaced by the gates torn between worlds. Struggling with an unfamiliar language and culture, she must adapt to virtual classrooms, friends who can teleport, and the ingrained attitude that strays are backward and slow.
Can Cass ever find her way home? And after the people of her new world discover her unexpected value, will they be willing to let her leave?
I blame Doctor Who. Mr Spock. The Scooby Gang: both the ones in the Mystery Machine and the ones with the stakes. I’ve spent my life with stories of people who don’t walk away, who go back for their friends, who make that last stand. I’ve been brainwashed by Samwise Gamgee.
What worked for me:
- The journal format…gives it an immediacy. I felt I was present in the story.
- The books compelled me to keep reading.
- Ms. Höst does a good job showing the trouble Cass has with the language. (I can relate–I’m not very good with languages…lol) At first Cass speaks and thinks in simple words and has trouble getting her point across or getting people to take her seriously. Some don’t treat her as a person because of it.
- People are amazed when she displays any intelligence!
- The implanted computer in a brain provides everything–education, entertainment, communication…and the ability for the government to listen to all communications and even constantly monitor Cass’ vital signs.
- Cass has just finished high school on Earth, but has to start all over again in this new culture she finds herself in. She has to complete all the lessons to be considered an adult and she finds this very frustrating.
- Her problems fitting in and adapting to her new life seem very real.
- Cass encounters both good and bad in this new world.
- I like Cass and the world she finds herself in…the way she’s determined to make the best of her life. It’s hard for her, but she doesn’t give in to depression though she does get angry sometimes!
- A satisfying romance.
What didn’t work:
- The power the government has is resolved too optimistically.
I read the first two books at the end of 2013 and the last book and the epilogue at the beginning of January. The books including the epilogue are each a continuation of the last. The epilogue isn’t really necessary to read, because the books did wrap-up at the end of the trilogy. But I liked the characters a lot and enjoyed spending more time seeing some of the things which happen over a longer period of time.
The books are very satisfying science fiction/fantasy, but the themes in the books also made me think about several things in our societies: how we treat people who are different from us or foreigners who don’t speak our language very well and our use of computers, cell phones and lack of privacy.
Many people speak very loud, don’t listen or think the person must not be very smart if they don’t speak their language. Also the implant in the brain is very interesting and exciting to think about, but as with any technology there are good and bad parts to it. The U.S. is listening to lots of conversations. We are tracked by our cell phones–many times voluntarily letting businesses track us. Google Glass is coming and brain implants may not be far behind.
Have you read any of Ms. Höst’s books? This series? I’m very impressed with her writing.