About Me

Here at the Watauga County Public Library we like to read books (weird, right?). As it turns out, we also like to talk about books. And you, O internet wanderer, are our lucky audience! Here's the deal: We read books. We write up what we thought about them. You read the review. You comment. If it looks good (it probably will, our judgment is impeccable), you read the book yourself, and let us know what you thought!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reviewing Molly Fyde

Well let’s see. I’ve never really reviewed anything officially before, so this is a first. I suppose, however, that I am a fairly opinionated guy. I just hope that I can coalesce all of these opinions into a functioning review that makes sense for the two of you who will read this.

For my first attempt at reviewing, I will discuss Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue, by Hugh Howey- the first in a new trilogy.

This book was, interestingly enough, brought to my attention by the author himself. He popped in here one rainy (this adjective is open to debate) Thursday morning and said, “Hi, I’m Hugh Howey, I’ve just come in from sailing around the world- island hopping, if you will- and I was wondering if you could tell me where the High Country Writer’s meeting will be held.” I’m not kidding, he said this exact sentence. So I told him where the meeting was and then, curious as to why a world traveler would pop in to Boone one supposedly rainy Thursday and want to attend a writer’s club meeting, asked him if he was a writer himself. Well, it turned out that he was and that, lo and behold, he had published a book! Not only that, he had signed a contract for the other two in the trilogy! Yes, lady and gentleman, I was in the presence of semi-halfway-kinda-sorta fame (who was also a decent and extremely likeable chap, which, I’m sorry to say, is not something that can often be said about published, semi-halfway-kinda-sorta famous authors, who generally have a bad case of nose-in-the-air syndrome). After the meeting he brought me a copy of the first Molly Fyde book (signed!) and being an endeavoring sort, and a supporter of underground children’s literature, I agreed to give it a read.

O.K., enough blather, on to the review. Let me start by saying that after the first few pages, I completely forgot that I was reading a book by someone I knew. The story sucks you in that quick. It opens in a distant future where Molly and her best friend/training partner Cole Mendonça are in a flight simulator at the Naval Academy, engaged in a mock interstellar battle. Things go haywire, their weapons systems go down, and after some fancy flying that showcases the raw talent of Miss Fyde, they make it out of the simulation by the skin of their teeth. It turns out, however, that fancy flying that saves lives equals simple showboating at this Academy, something that Molly has apparently developed a reputation for. After being dressed down by a boorish commander and given an abysmal score, Molly is then booted from the Academy and sent off to regular high school, wondering if she will fit in with the regular, non-military kids.

Her exile is short-lived, however, in that a loving, father type figure, otherwise known as Admiral Lucin comes calling. He informs her that the ship Parsona, which belonged to her parents, who have been missing/presumed dead for a long time, has been located in some distant part of the galaxy. Molly, not one to sit idly by while other, less talented pilots retrieve her ship, volunteers to go and get it along with help from a Naval escort who turns out to be, drum roll please, her best friend Cole. So, with giddy adventure hormones coursing through their veins, the two of them set off on a galaxy-reaching quest to retrieve her parents' ship.

It becomes apparent very quickly that things are not meant to go their way (surprise, surprise!). Their contact on Palan, the planet where Parsona is located, is missing and when they try to report in to the local Naval base, they barely escape being arrested. From there things spin slowly out of control for Molly and Cole and the ways in which they react to the obstacles placed before them become increasingly drastic.

One of the greatest challenges in writing science fiction is world building. Since the world(s) that your readers will be traipsing through is one that no one has ever seen, it must be built on a solid foundation that is believable and tangible. One we feel comfortable moving around in. The story is almost second-string to the world an author has constructed. A second-rate tale will become that much better if the world is solidly built but an excellent story can fall flat in a world that feels thin and under-developed. That being said, the world that Mr. Howey has built for Molly and Cole is sturdy and I never once found myself questioning its tangibility. I was able to soar along the rim of the Milky Way with our intrepid explorers and delve into each new planet they visit with joyful ease. Plus, there are some really cool aliens. The Glemots, a hyper-intelligent race of anthropomorphic grizzly bears, were my favorite.

The story is also wonderfully crafted. There are a number of sub-plots that fit nicely into the main storyline and the dark theme of an inter-planetary conspiracy is woven nicely with the quest to find out where Parsona is and what really happened to her parents. The relationship between Molly and Cole continues to grow and romantic bonds form as the story progresses. There is just enough tension there to keep our teen fans hooked, I think.

The characters all go through interesting and dynamic changes as the plot moves them along and they react realistically to the problems they face. Many authors are afraid to have their characters make bold decisions and suffer real consequences for their actions, but not Mr. Howey. The decisions that Molly and Cole make are often quite shocking, actually. It might even be said that they tend towards the melodramatic but this is blended in nicely and made believable by some very decent writing on Mr. Howey’s part.

There were only two major qualms I had with the first run of Molly Fyde. For one, the story was a little too episodic for me. Each planet they visit seems to be a separate book entirely and this causes some loss in interest as they transition from one climactic scene on a planet to another climactic scene on a different one. On the other hand, I wanted the book to be longer so that all of these worlds and characters could be developed even more. I think that this issue will be resolved as the series is a trilogy and I don’t think any character introduced was peripheral. It seems to me that they will all eventually play a major role as Molly’s story unfolds.

In the end, I was truly hooked by this story. It may not be the next best thing to happen to kid’s lit, but it is unashamed in attempting its mission, that of telling a great story and providing us with an exciting adventure. On those accounts, it succeeds brilliantly. I also found a comfort in the story that is the mark of a truly good series. Molly, Cole and their entourage seem like old friends now and I am sad to leave them, even if it is just temporary. I look forward to meeting up with them again in the next book: Molly Fyde and the Land of Light.



  1. "Yes, lady and gentleman"

    You're hilarious. Soon we will have MILLIONS of readers, MWAHAHAHAHA.

    Anyway, this sounds, at first, kinda Ender's Game-y, so it's cool that they got away and did all that other cool stuff. I love a good, classic kids-in-search-of-parents story. Plus, meeting aliens. Cool.

    You should get that dude back over here to give us part 2!

  2. Thanks for the great review, Owen. I hope you enjoy Land of Light. Most readers think it's even better than The Parsona Rescue.