Friday, September 4, 2015

Restoree by Anne McCaffrey

The threat came from the sky, an unknown terror that appeared from nowhere and caused Sara to faint after glimpsing a shape in the sky - a faint that transformed into a waking dream of disjointed memories of bodies and intense smells.  When she truly reawakens she discovers that she is in a strange place where she is the caregiver of a man who has been struck down by mental illness, a strange irony considering she herself has faced mental trauma.  As her nerves settle and her awareness fully returns Sara discovers that the man she cares for is not suffering from any mental illness and is instead the victim of a conspiracy that has trapped him in his own mind through the use of a powerful drug.  Because his captors think Sara is a simpleton, capable of only following the simplest of instructions, she learns more than she should and sets herself on the dangerous path of trying to free the man from his drugged stupor.

Freeing Harlan from his drug induced state is only the first step though, because once he is free of the drugs and asylum it becomes apparent that the world he left behind is greatly changed - and not for the better.  Harlan needs to return to the Palace, but he is too easily recognised, and his enemies are hunting for him.  Sara is not so easily recognised and has a greater chance, but she is ignorant about the planet she now calls home and her ignorance threatens not only her safety, but also Harlan's.  It is a race against time for Harlan to regain his place, and it seems as though the fates are playing a cruel game with their lives - one moment saving them from disaster through some weird stroke of luck, only to turn the next moment into a comedy of errors that threatens everything.  

The Restoree is one of the books that I seem to drift back to every couple of years, a book I read to reboot my reading palate before I dive into another book or series - a firm favourite I know I will enjoy reading again and again.  I am not sure what draws me back so frequently, it may be because it is a deceptively simple story wiht little twists and turns that niggle at the back of your mind, or maybe it is because so much rests on the shoulders of our heroine and we get to discover this new world through her eyes, or maybe it is just because it is a standalone book that lets you dive into the world without having to bother about when you will find time to read the rest of the series once you are hooked (yes I am looking at Dragonflight and the rest of Pern when I say this!).  

While Restoree lacks the finesse and charm of McCaffrey's later books, Sara is an engaging character in her own way - drawing you into the experience through her own eyes.  She is not a perfect character, she lacks confidence and is incredibly naive in some ways, but she is also feisty and not willing to lie down and take the hand the fates have dealt for her.  The language is a little stilted in places, but that reflects the era the book was written in and reflects a young author coming into her talent - at times the pace is a little uneven but the wealth of characters makes up for this.  Even though I have read this book countless times over the years I was still surprised by parts of the story, having forgotten in the intervening years the minutia of the story.  There are villains, there are heroes, and there are everyday people in this story - something for everyone to enjoy.  In many ways this is classic science fiction, rather than the blend of fantasy and science fiction that became McCaffrey's trademark.

If you like this book then try:
  • The crystal singer by Anne McCaffrey
  • Decision at Doona by Anne McCaffrey
  • The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
  • Tinker by Wen Spencer
  • Eight million gods by Wen Spencer
  • Alien taste by Wen Spencer
  • The ship who sang by Anne McCaffrey
  • Werehunter by Mercedes Lackey
  • Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
  • Sassinak by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon
  • Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara

Reviewed by Brilla

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