Review, romance, science fiction

Review: Nothing in Common

I’ve been racking my brain for something these two books have in common, and can’t figure anything out. Only that both authors are veterans. Otherwise… polar opposites. Oh, and both fun to read for me. You all know already that I’ll read almost anything right? So a bildungsroman science fiction novel and a steamy romance novel, it’s all in a week’s reading.

jaxsonTo begin with, Jaxson is a classic romance novel. Girl meets boy, boy beats her abusive ex to a pulp… There’s a lot of fun in this book. I really enjoyed the development of the military aspects, that her father opened up to the new guy in her life based on their mutual service. The scene at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. I loved the setting in Hawaii (someday I want to go visit) and the obsession with food. In fact, one of my few nitpicks is that I would have liked to see the final cupcake baking developed a little more. That felt a bit rushed. Oh, and a caveat: it doesn’t bother me, I found it well-done, but there is a steamy sex scene in this book. So you know.

Jaxson is a light read. Weightless. Save it for when you’re having a gloomy day and want something to brighten it for you, or for when you’re under the weather like I did. And don’t forget: this is a debut novel. Go leave a review after you’ve read, because I don’t know about you, but I’d like to read more from this author.

galileo syndromeAnd on the other hand, something completely different. Stephen Simmon’s The Galileo Syndrome follows the life and development of a pair of savant children, through the eyes of the older sister Peaches, from about the age of three onwards. This does not necessarily make it a YA story, and it annoys me (yes, I’m going on a side rant) that people assume that just because the protagonists are young, there’s nothing there for them. YA has a lot more to do with the simplicity of plot, language, and direction of the theme than it does the age of the protagonists. Although this book could be read by younger people (in fact, I plan to give a copy to my 12 yo Junior Mad Scientist) it contains much that will go right over their heads. Just because a book is clean, sweet and lacks sex, does not make it a YA. Ok, rant off.

Ever thought about what education for a savant would be like? Simmons lays it out, and along the way delivers some interesting points about teaching science, history, and well, teaching. The book is entirely from the point of view of Peaches rather than her brother Ricky, because his thought processes are more opaque. Peaches thinks of herself as normal (although she isn’t, but it’s a good characterization by Simmons as he develops her), and her little brother as autistic, although she knows what he is. It’s more complex than autistic. Simmon’s conceit in this story is that Ricky can sense all the parallel universes, can hear them, almost from birth. He also has an eidetic memory. Yeah, that could leave a child seeming very Odd indeed to the outside world.

I’m not going to summarize the plot for you. It’s a fun read, for all the weight of some of the topics he introduces. This is a satisfyingly long book (I like big books, I cannot deny…) and their is wit and humor to leaven the action, character development, and a few cameos I’ll leave you to try and figure out who. I liked this, from Peaches: “But while the ‘curve fairy’ was drifting invisibly through the school, gently tapping all the girls here and there, for some reason the little bitch decided it would be fun to grab her wand with both hands and beat the crap out of me with it.” That made me laugh out loud. I can remember feeling just that way when I developed young.

The drawback of the book for me is the title. I personally don’t think that Galileo was beset for his science, but for his inept politics. Which isn’t the case with Ricky in this book. On the other hand, it’s catchy, and most readers won’t know better. So? I don’t know. Lesson for me with Galileo was don’t piss a pope off. Only because I’m so very not-a-catholic this was never even a half-thought for me. Heh. Enough digression. If you like old-school science fiction with development of characters, alien worlds, and yes, political commentary, you’ll enjoy this book. He left it fairly open at the end, so I don’t know if a sequel is planned, or if we can simply extrapolate from what’s given to the conclusion of their lives.