Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: Heart of Gold by Sharon Shinn

Author: Sharon Shinn
Publisher: Ace
Paperback: 352 pages
Summary: (taken from Sharon Shinn's website)
Two races—the matriarchal indigo and the patriarchal gulden—uneasily co-exist in a single shared metropolis. Nolan, a young indigo male, loves his job working in a biological lab, though he knows he will soon be called home to his family estates to marry his longtime fiancee. Everything in his life changes when he meets Kitrini, a high-caste indigo woman who has defiantly thrown her lot in with the gulden. Issues of class, culture, gender, prejudice, loyalty, and honor shape their choices when Nolan and Kitrini realize that he holds the knowledge that could save the life of the man Kitrini has always loved.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

As I now expect from Shinn's novels, this was brilliant. The world is just what I expect from a good science fiction novel: strange enough to make it feel completely alien, yet familiar enough for me to relate to the problems its society faces. The summary only gives the romantic aspects of the book, I think. While romance plays a big role, this is also a book about impending war between the indigo and gulden. Through this, Shinn is able to explore major issues about discrimination, politics, racism, and biological warfare all the while entertaining us as readers. I like the idea of two races not getting along not just because of their skin color and bad history, but because of fundamental differences about how they believe life should be lived. I really think this would be a good novel to study and analyze because it's able to fit so much in its three hundred fifty pages. As always with Shinn, the characters were interesting and complex; even the minor characters were able to hold my attention.

The one major pitfall of Heart of Gold is the ending. What I particularly loved while reading it was that there were huge internal conflicts and external conflicts that were intricately linked to each other. While the characters' internal conflicts are nicely wrapped up, I felt like the external conflict had just begun to reach its peak at the ending of the novel. In the last few dozen pages, it was building up to be something quite dramatic, but the novel ends before the action can be carried out. That greatly disappointed me, and I know it will frustrate many other readers.