Published: December 8, 2011 (BookBaby)
Source: E-book from the author
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Life should be simple for Cassie. For the small population of Earth survivors who live on the Space Station Hope everything they do is planned and scheduled, down to the cyclical food menus, their roles in the station, even how many children they have.
Despite rigid controls directing her life, Cassie feels more out of synch than ever and worries she won’t find a place for herself within the station community. Perhaps that’s because she’s hearing things inside her head that can’t possibly be real. Or maybe it’s the regular elopements of her peers, heading off to a romantic future in the Married Quarter of the space station, whilst she’s never even been attracted to a boy – no matter how hard her best friend Ami pushes them at her. Then there are the odd questions her work placement partner Balik keeps raising. His questions are just as troubling for her as his distracting smiles and eyes that seem to see inside her.
As Cassie draws closer to Balik she finds that everything else in her life begins to shift. He tells her things that call into question the system they live within. She can't believe he is right, but at the same time she finds it hard to deny the sincerity of his ideas. Could there be a connection between Cassie’s problems and Balik’s questions? The truth will drag them both to a terrifying and deadly conclusion beyond anything they could have imagined.
I have a thing for sci-fi; at times, it's almost a bit embarrassing just how easily I can (and will) geek out over this or that (including my now obsessive Firefly marathons.) So when Melanie Cusick-Jones asked me to read and review her sci-fi novel, Hope's Daughter, I, of course, jumped on the chance. Right away, I was interested in learning more about the culture of the survivors of Earth, who live on a space station, Hope, and seem to take for granted that everything is provided for them. No one really questions or misses Earth, and the newer generations of course can't even remember living anywhere else. Cusick-Jones built a really fascinating society, almost Utopian geared, in which everything is controlled, down to what a person eats, and so the protagonist, Cassie and I got along right away, considering she had questions about her way of life.
However, what started off promising faltered somewhere along the way for me. I was with Hope's Daughter, right there with Cassie, puzzling through the rigid rules until somewhere, everything went off the rails for me. I thought I would like Cassie a great deal, because she was inquisitive, but instead, she irritated me to no end. She made some poor choices - she made some good ones, too! - but I just never did click with her at all, couldn't really seem to bring myself to cheer for her, or get really invested in what was happening to her. The writing felt very forced and awkward at times for me, and I think that's another fact that played into my disengaging from this book. Instead of living the story as it happened, I felt like a detached outsider, reading about it.
Hope's Daughter does have an interesting romance in it, between Cassie and Balik. I won't go so far as to call them "insta-love" because Cusick-Jones does spend a good amount of time and energy developing their relationship. And Balik is rather charming and awesome in his own way - he was one of the redeeming things about Hope's Daughter, for me. I think for me Cassie and Balik felt too convenient, sort of like they happened TO happen. I didn't sense any burning desire from either of them that propelled the relationship forward, it was just sort of like a lucky coincedance, something that happened far too often in Hope's Daughter. I guess it's something the reader just has to learn not to question, but I'm not that sort of reader.
There's a great deal of potential in Hope's Daughter for a sequel or sequels, but there would need to be a lot of changes for me. My biggest complaint is that a lot of the action and resolutions, and consequences felt very much like recycled plot devices. There was a great deal of originality in the premise, but not in the follow-through. I felt like Cusick-Jones used a lot of tried and true go-to methods to explain away this character's motivation or that, and that doesn't satisfy me. I wanted things to matter, I wanted to FEEL something - rage, happiness, sadness - and instead I didn't.
I'm not sure I could recommend Hope's Daughter, unless you're okay with reading a novel that, despite a great premise, didn't follow through, for me. I always encourage people to decide for themselves, though, and there IS always the chance that you'll warm to Hope's Daughter more than I did! Despite it falling flat for me, it was a cool idea with solid world-building that could have used more personalization in the characters and plot.
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