Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Acorna's Quest by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball (part of the Human Trafficking Awareness Week reviews)

Read as part of


July 1999, Corgi
416 pages, paperback
Personal copy


Outer space, planets, bug-like evil killer aliens, more unicorn-like people, thieves, extortionists, pirates, hostage situations, spaceship taken over, young teens coping with extraordinary life circumstances, self-preservation, search for identity, facing and encountering horrific fears, telepathy, healing, weapons, inventive cursing that avoids cursewords, old characters reunited,

Summary from Transworld 
Found as an infant drifting alone in an escape pod in deep space, Acorna was reared by three young asteroid prospectors who raised her as their mascot, their miracle girl, and saved her from those who would destroy her mysterious powers.

But now Acorna has become a young woman who has dreams of a shining world with blue grass and green skies. She still has the translucent horn in the middle of her forehead - she still has her powers to make things heal, and grow, and purify, but she longs to know where she came from - what world in the galaxy was her home?

With one of her old protectors, she sets off on a quest to find her own kind, but even as she leaves a strange craft appears in the skies, peopled by gentle and mysterious telepaths who bring, not only terrible news of a frightening race of invading space killers, but also the memory of an infant, lost in space, long ago...

Nayuleska's thoughts
I distinctly remember the last time I read this book, I enjoyed it but was annoyed that every single page wasn't devoted to Acorna. I have progressed a little further in my reading, and now appreciate viewing the story from several different angles. I enjoyed the non-Acorna characters more because they bring out Acorna's characteristics. Having Callum who admits he isn't the best person to deal with an emotional female try to reassure Acorna as she figures out an outfit for her family was hilarious. I could feel Acorna's distress - not solely by the way she reacts. That's part of Acorna's appeal. I like the slightly non-human gestures she makes: how her eyes narrow, how she sort of whinney's when distressed. Little details like that add so much to a story like this one.

Like Acorna there are several point of views and several story lines to juggle. I think I understand them more on a re-read - either that or I'm just getting used to some books where a lot goes on! I was able to understand most of the technical jargon - the essential points were always explained easily. There is a lot of humour with Rafik and Gill around. There are some emotional parts too, so make sure you've got a few tissues ready. All of the character view points were necessary. It might seem a little odd to watch the two peacekeepers from Acorna see a bit of action, but their lives are tangled up with  Acorna's in this and other books. I think that's what I understand more, that the different points of view all influence Acorna in one way or another. I guess you gain maturity in reading over time.

The alien invasion is providing a foundation for what happens in subsequent books. Hafiz's new wife (by the end of the book) has a more significant role to play later too - she is very away with the fairies. I loved Acorna's relations, especially they way they speak telepathically and how they can convey images by touching  horns, as well as ease and comfort Acorna as they reveal atrocities to her.

This book is predominantly about Acorna's search for her people - but in doing so she grows in experience and proves that unlike her earlier life in Acorna, she has a solid head on her shoulders and rushes into trouble with a little planning, rather than none at all. She still has a tendency to overdo things, much to the consternation of her friends. But they make sure she gets the rest she needs, and do all they can to help Acorna be happy.

There isn't much of an emphasis on human trafficking in this book - obviously it is there because the rescued children are on the moons. Either the third or the fourth book returns to this emphasis, which makes for a brilliant read.

Final Conclusion 
She may be a race incorporating unicorn features, but Acorna has the same worries about fitting in and not making a fool of herself as any young girl would when finally meeting her relatives.

Be sure to read Acorna, the first in this awesome series.

More information about Anne McCaffrey can be found on her website.

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