A vivid universe and empathetic characters are used to impart hope in this well-imagined work of science fiction.
In David Alomes’s science fiction novel First Adult, a well-established universe and strong characters are used to propose a solution to the world’s hardships and create hope for humanity.
The story line is complex, yet easy to follow. Introductions to the main players are made by SharTree, a minor character whose family played a key role in the history of the universe. SharTree introduces the First Adult, Ikara, who is vaguely implied to be the leader of the universe. His mission is to find candidates to train to be Adults, elevated beings who love unconditionally and who derive powers from that love. That ability, in turn, enables Adults to save their war-strewn planets. On a trip to Earth, Ikara happens across Samuel, who proves himself to be caring and selfless enough to be trained for Adulthood.
Although it takes a little too long to discover what it actually means to be an Adult, and although the concept is not a wholly original one, it is an effective device. Best developed, however, is the novel’s backstory, an origin tale wherein the storytelling shines, in which unreserved love leads to “feelings and concern meshed together and amplified a million times…glacial [and] unstoppable.” The pain, suffering, and intense affection between characters is well fleshed out, and their stories are captivating.
Characters, no matter how small their roles, are all well developed, with individual cares and histories. Even SharTree, who mostly acts as a window into the main action of the novel, is given space to worry and complain about her husband: “Now all he wants is is to play games on the tri-v, eat, and sleep. He’s as bad as those cursed langa beasts that roam the planet, consuming and breeding, and totally useless for any worthwhile purpose.”
Though the universe of the novel is well imagined, it often lacks specificity. The first species introduced are the Eshari from the planet Daen, who include SharTree and Ikara. Though physically Eshari are described as very stereotypically alien, and though their technology is very advanced, their nature and way of life make them akin to humans. The book later includes beings from other planets, but they all seem to be essentially human as well, with one or two strange traits making them alien. Descriptive phrases are sometimes repeated, and the narrative feels light on strong imagery as a result.
First Adult is a brave attempt at solving the world’s problems through fiction. With a vivid universe and empathetic characters, this novel is a quick and engaging read that just might restore a little faith in humanity.
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