Saturday, December 4, 2010
Review: Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill
Durango is a self-employed ex-Regulator on the scrappy future colony of Mars. He has an AI implanted in his brain and does random odd jobs in his hi-tech “armor” suit. His next job leads him to a group of miners trying to protect themselves from the Draeu, scary human-like creatures with a penchant for violence and distruction. Should be no sweat, right?
But even Durango can’t prepare for what he’s gotten himself into.
Have you heard of Firefly, the sci-fi/western Joss Whedon-directed TV show that’s arguably one of the best shows ever produced? BLACK HOLE SUN is very much like Firefly, which is both good and challenging: the book has a similar sense of humor, characterization, and setting, but is hard-pressed to live up to its fantastic inspiration.
The best thing about BLACK HOLE SUN is hands-down Durango’s voice. He’s a definite Captain Mal Reynolds: once an accomplished academy member turned self-employed rogue, with all the snarkily pragmatic disaffection that such a position nurtures. He and his AI, his cheeky former boss Mimi, provide neverending amounts of conversational back-and-forths, you know, the sort you always wish you could engage in in real life but could never real pull off except with multiple revisions. Durango’s witty dialogue takes center stage and never fails to leave you chuckling, even as the plot plods and the other characters don’t shine as brightly.
Indeed, BLACK HOLE SUN sometimes feels like it relies too much on the appeal of Durango’s voice to pay more attention to other important elements of story. It’s slow-going, the plot: the main conflict doesn’t even arise until almost halfway through the book, and even then it meanders so much that oftentimes I found myself scratching my head and wondering if there was anything, anything at all, going on. The supporting characters are way less developed. With the exception of Vienne, Durango’s right hand and maybe-maybe-not love interest, the other characters don’t really stand out or make much of a lasting impression.
If you read BLACK HOLE SUN, read it for its brilliant voice, one of the most unique ones out there currently in YA lit. It’s no Firefly, but if you’re okay with a slower plot, then you get to focus on the brilliance that is Durango’s character.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - I like how it's simple and straightforward in that block-text sort of way, only without the blocky-ish text. But you have got to check it out in person. It's printed on some sort of black paper that turns streaks of rainbow when you hold it up to a light at the right angle. So ridiculously cool.
HarperCollins / Aug. 24, 2010 / Hardcover / 340pp. / $16.99