Paw-Prints is a pretty solid standalone, but for all that I regret not reading Hollow Moon first. I would have preferred a full prologue, rather than the sometimes rather clunky slotting in of backstory when the author felt it necessary. However, when strong prologue is so frowned on by so many ‘modern writing experts’ its often avoidance is only to be expected. The problem is that gradual past history integration requires very a great deal of the writer, far more than the ability to tell a good story or write entertainingly. This is an excellent book, don’t think for a minute that it isn’t, but sometimes the simplest way of doing things is actually the best.
This is a book suited to a young teenage audience, and so equally to everyone who doesn’t require more adult content. I very much enjoyed the book from well the wrong side of fifty. Good story telling is good story telling.
The book was published in 2013, yet partly through naive space science and partly through some strange cultural insensitivity I felt I was ready a book written in the 1950’s. Phrases like, “she spoke with a sweeter Asian twist” can’t really be construed as offensive, but they certainly demonstrate a degree of cultural heavy footedness. The quirky science is no problem at all. It is nothing to the ridiculous lack of realism displayed by so many ‘paranormal’ writers. It’s just a bit more Michael Crichton than Arthur C. Clarke.
My biggest criticism is reserved for excessive use of the single character pointers for certain of the main characters. One of characters can’t be mentioned without some reference to the game of cricket, and another to excessive food consumption. Yet other important characters disappear into a fog as they are left so bewilderingly thin of detail. I’m sure this was in part the casualty of the lack a nice thick backstory before launching into this second in series. An index list of characters might have made the book better, and saved using such repetitive memory joggers.
Bennion is a very competent writer, who I’m sure has plenty more adventures for Ravana lined up. Ravana is very much in the fashion of strong female characters, but is made to feel all the more real for lacking many of the ‘superior to men’ superpowers that so many ‘fictional kick-arse-feminista’ possess. We seemed to be swamped by beautiful female characters that weigh less than a bag of potatoes yet fight in a way that makes James Bond look like a pussy. Ravana is a tough cookie, but one that mere mortals can relate to.
I think this storyline could be made into a really good screenplay for all sorts of live film and or animation. The chances of that happening may be nil, as media producers are swamped with brilliant material from independent writers as it is, but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t advance the idea. There is a touch of humour in this book that I think would work really well.
I hope that all the British rather than American cultural references don’t put off young American readers. I very much enjoyed their presence, particularly as so too many non-American English writers try over-hard to appeal to the American market. I know absolutely zilch about Bennion’s background, but as an aside to the plot I enjoyed speculating. I would be very disappointed if I found out that she hasn’t played cricket.
To conclude, this is a great read for the young of all ages.