DOOON MODE by Piers Anthony
VIRTUAL MODE BOOK FOUR
TOR, Tom Doherty Associates, April 2001
The 'Mode' series traces the life of dimension-crossing teenage girl Colene as she battles her depression and seeks to help her friends. In DOOON MODE, Colene and her 'husband' Darius are blackmailed into giving the chip that controls the ability to cross dimensions (called modes in Anthony's series.) Together with a triad of Dooon nulls (genetically altered humans who take on attributes of animals--cats in this case), magic-making princess Nona and Burgess, an alien creature, Colene and Darius cross modes to find the chip. As they cross, Colene is hunted by a mind-beast that threatens to drain her of existance.
As with most of Piers Anthony's works (see other BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by this author), DOOON MODE combines fantasy action with psychological insights. In this case, Colene is the focus of both. Her rape has left her unable to respond sexually to her husband. Her depression makes her unable to fulfil her role as a supplier of joy to the citizens of Darius's realm. Her low sense of self-worth makes her unable to achieve the magical powers that are latent within her. Yet she seems stuck, unable to resolve her issues. Only when the fantasy adventure and the psychological journey converge does Colene have a chance--the narrow path between physical and psychological destruction.
Anthony fans will find a lot to like in this novel. It completes the long-abandoned Mode series. Colene and her party make a brief stop in Xanth (Anthony's most popular series). The early game playing between the nulls is somewhat reminiscent of the contests that make up so much of Anthony's Apprentice Adept series. Colene's heroic nature is clearly shown when she helps a planet full of nulls forge an alliance with the dragons that had always hunted them.
Unfortunately, the work is marred by an incredible talkiness and clunky dialogue. Colene must explain her dilemna twenty times to the same cast of friends. While the writing does not eliminate the impact of the story, it does detract from the enjoyment. As a word of warning, DOOON MODE does contain generalized descriptions of rape and child molestation. I recommend that parents should definitely read the book before sharing it with young teens and preteens.
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