This was a complex book with quite a long cast of characters. It was just a little too complex for me, and whilst the sci-fi/fantasy genres are comfortably settling themselves onto my bookshelf, this didn’t enthral me as much as I hoped and is probably a novel for true aficionados of the genre.
The story is about humans cohabiting with the Tofa on their planet, Tofarn. The Tofa are quite an enigma, and neither race fully understands each other. Mara is a scientist who proposes a selection of host mothers carry twins: one human, one Tofa. Her theory is that the natural bond between twins will help both races learn more about each other and lead to a more integrated—and peaceful—existence between the races. Mara herself is a twin, but her brother died before birth. However, he is alive and well in her imagination and becomes her mentor and counsellor. The project has a promising future: on paper, it seems a feasible and sound plan, but of course, it’s never wise to underestimate obstinacy, narrow-mindedness, selfishness or controlling opposition…
For me personally, however, the story lacked action. I found it very hard to get close to any of the human characters (I don’t think one was expected to feel much for the featureless, four-armed Tofa), and my head spun with new characters who just kept on appearing: but thank you, Karen, for alerting us to the handy cast list at the end of the book.
There were things I did like about this book: first I was extremely impressed by Karen’s writing. It’s articulate, fluent and quite distinct. The concept of the story is imaginative and ‘well packaged’: five gold stars for its editing—every single aspect. How refreshing to find not one comma out of place or omitted. I didn’t emit one single ‘tut-tut’! The complexity of the plot is from a very intelligent and organised mind and for that reason, whilst this novel didn’t quite hit the spot, I'm certainly looking forward to reading more by this author.