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    Review of FIRST WARNING: ACORNA'S CHILDREN by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

    eos, August 2005

    Khorii is traveling with her parents when they run into first a derelict space cruiseship, and then get word of a plague that is ripping through the galaxy. Khorii's parents are famous healers, so they drop Khorii, along with her cat and her cyborg step-brother, at a school where they thinks she'll be safe, and head off to confront the plague. But Khorii is not really safe. First, there's a bully who actually tries to kill her cat, then there's the threat of starvation. The plague has been so complete that no food is reaching the school.

    When she discovers that a plague-infested freighter is near, Khorii decides to stop following the rules and to act. She travels to the freighter, heals the sole survivor, and, when the school refuses to allow her to return, sets off on a mission of healing.

    Unfortunately, the bully comes along--and causes no end of trouble for her with his ambition to become a space tyrant or pirate lord.

    Authors Anne McCaffrey (see more reviews of novels by McCaffrey) and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (see more reviews of novels by Scarborough) use the Acorna series to attempt to help teen and pre-teen readers discover the magic of SF. The clever cats, the device of using a unicorn girl as the protagonist, and Acorna/Khorii's innocence, vegetarianism, and passivism will all appeal to the young reader, especially the young female reader. It seems to me, however, that McCaffrey and Scarborough (both wonderful writers who have created some of the most powerful fantasy available today) go too far in simplifying their writing and simplifying the plot. Rather than write over their readers, I fear that they write under their readers.

    Unlike several earlier Acorna stories, however, FIRST WARNING manages to be simple without being annoying. Even adult readers will find much about this story to be enjoyable, and the coming of age aspects are charming.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 10/15/05

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