Thursday, April 2, 2015
Company Daughter, by Callan Primer
I received a review copy of "Company Daughter" from the author, who was explicit about not expecting me to alter my review in any way. That's a particularly brave position to take, since I had just posted (as an April Fool prank) my intention to randomly savage books and authors to research the impact on book sales. Callan didn't blink an eye.
Do NOT attempt to read this book without yummy food close by. Here's what got me through: a great big bowl ( two actually) of navy beans and ham and cornbread, and this morning a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal with butter and brown sugar. A great big shout out to my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant foxy praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, for making it possible to read this book without lapsing into a culinary coma.
Aleta is a cook. Her mama taught her how to cook Goyoti recipes, which involve lots of peppers, clarified butter, honey, dacho, noodles, and auroch jerky formed into meatballs with flour and eggs. I'm guessing the planet Goyoti was settled by people from the Indian subcontinent, but could be the Philippines, Thailand, or Indonesia; at any rate, it's someplace where cooking is recognized as being IMPORTANT! Which is good for Aleta, because being a GOOD cook is as sure a guarantee of a future as anything you are going to get.
She does have other options, though. She just rejects them, and that has a LOT to do with her age and position. She is just shy of her 16th birthday, when a degree of emancipation is available, but ONLY if she finisher her BASIC course of education. Which, of course, she refuses to do.
Her mother was killed in battle when she was young, and her father is the commander of the Red Wolves Free Company, a mercenary unit housed in a gigantic, sentient space-going habitat. Aleta escapes his supervision every chance she can get, with the full intent of making it on her own. She is aided in her escapades by a secret link with Zelle, the heart and brain of the habitat. And she is always caught by Lt. Joe Park, the drop dead gorgeous young officer assigned to be her guardian.
You know what? That's just about as far as I can take you. You know, of course, that Aleta is going to escape the confines of the ship, and you know (because I told you) that she is going to use her cooking skills to make her way.
But it doesn't pan out the way I expected, and so that makes the next stage a spoiler, and I don't do spoilers (on purpose). And there are a LOT of plot twists on the way, which make for a great book, but really, you are just going to have to trust .me on this one. I can't tell you! Sure, it's a coming of age/responsibility novel. (You probably get that by looking at the ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS cover. The designer's name is Clarissa Yeo , who is, according to her web page 19 years old!!!) But all I can say, without spoiling your read of the book, is that she has adventures and through friendship and character (not just her own) she manages to make it through to responsibility and maturity.
This book qualifies for YA status, since it involves a youthful protagonist, and doesn't include explicit sex. The category makes me snicker, though, because invariably I find that I just enjoy the heck out of those books, and I'm 61 years old. Regardless of YOUR age, I recommend it to you without reservation.