After about five pages into this book, I thought this was not my kind of book. Here I am, 65 years old, and I’m reading about a bunch of 5-year old aliens going to school! Then I told myself, OK, just put the book down. Yet when I actually stopped reading for the night, I shockingly realized I was already fifty percent through the book! Where had the time gone? I read fast, but only when I’ve got a very, very good book. So, after finishing the book, I can assure you this book is good, very good.
The author has created a very detailed view of an alien tribe going through the normal process of growing young people in to contributing adults. While they are alien, we never get a really clear picture of what a Goolian looks like. They do act like all very young children who seem to want to one-up each other at every chance they get. They also are quick to pounce on anyone that’s just slightly different from the rest. Young kids do it today in our society, but these alien Little Ones are a little different in that they are also training to fight, at 5 years of age, no less! I found the interaction among this group of very young female aliens to be very, very interesting because it seemed so very plausible. You’ll read in the story where these Little Ones are told that they have to contribute to the good of the tribe by determining their worth in learning (school), working (mostly in the fields), and in fighting (usually, but not always, at the Sparring Field).
I like the way the author pits two of these very young girls against each other while at the same time making them best friends. That happens in real life. Everyone is measuring themselves against the person next to them whether by conscious act or not. These kids do the same thing, even to the point of ostracizing one that isn’t developing like every one else. Alytchai or Aly for short, and Cattalice or Catty for short, are best friends, but also very competitive in just about everything. These two Little Ones look forward to the day they can take their Evaluations which is a test to see who has learned, worked and fought well enough to be worth something to the tribe. Unfortunately, young Aly has a serious shortcoming that will stay with her for life. How she handles this is very interesting considering she is the only one that doesn’t know about her condition. And her condition could lead to the death of anyone around here in mere seconds!
So, is this book just for young people? Absolutely not. I don’t think young people would understand some of the lessons that these young aliens are teaching themselves. I don’t think any of our young people at same the age as these aliens would have the maturity to go through what these Goolians have to go through. We just don’t have that kind of a society. Maybe we should. The author has a great imagination. I can’t image what it’s like to begin developing a completely different alien society and describe the interactions like is done in this book. I guess that’s why I’m a reader and not a writer!
Oh, did I say I thought about not reading this book after the first 5 pages? Well, forget that; I’ve already bought the second book in the series!