Monday, 25 May 2009

Review: Until the Skies Fall by Liza Granville

Delightful book, very interesting and provides a good idea of where genetic engineering is going to take the world. Too bad the scientists don't consider the future when they begin playing god.

At a future time, after our world is nearly destroyed by genetic experimentation, it is now faced with the possibility of destruction by a Death Star. Arthur, who has no surname and who looks the perfect human, is sent out into the world to search for four beings who have the ‘fire’ ability that will wake the Magic Stone. The Magic Stone will in turn destroy the Death Star and result in the earth being saved. When Arthur reaches Homestead West, Laz, part animal, part human, learns he has the ‘fire’ and must go with Arthur back to the far North where the Magic Stone rests.

Laz’s brothers and Ferrik, Laz’s adopted father, insists on accompanying them. A friend of Laz’s, Dann, and an old female healer, Wyc, decides to go with them. Time is short and confusion is rife, but the group sets out on the long journey. On the way, they must look for others who have the ‘fire’ ability. Death, heartbreak, near starvation, battles involving earth elements gone awry decreases the number in the group, yet they trudge onward. The entire world depends on them now.

I really liked this story. Not only does it involve a group of people and what happens to them on a long trip, but it also explores the ways various people react to the same incidents, the same danger. It explores the innermost feelings that can fill the mind as a result of these happenings. Liza Granville does a great job bringing Laz and his brothers, mentally, from youth to adulthood and yet leaving them with the sense of playfulness that makes life so much fun no matter how old one gets. She shows the dirty side of discrimination and how it hurts us and others. A good book for those who like to read of family trials with a touch of magic and the weird.


If I had more than 5 stars to give, I would give them to this book.

Lisa Granville has written a wonderful story in which she has created a totally believable alternate world with characters for whom the reader develops a real affinity.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world. At some time in the past, scientists began to experiment with genetic engineering, creating many people and animals which were very different in appearance from the norm. People and animals with extra limbs and wings are commonplace, but looked down upon, in this world, by people known as Perfects or Near-Perfects, those who are genetically most like humans once were. At some point, a huge battle arose between the religious right and the scientists, which caused the destruction of most of civilization.

Now, the earth is threatened again, this time by a "death star" from space. Only a few people can stop the death star and save the earth, and among them are Laz, his father Farrik, his brothers Rom and Longshanks, his friend Dann, and an old wise woman named Wye. Together, they set out on a quest to save the world, led by a perfect human who turns out not to be "folk" at all, Arthur, who must be an android.

At no point does Granville give us a full description of Laz, his family or friends. She gives us tantalizing hints as to their looks, but the only way we know how truly different they are is by the reactions of others to them. To themselves, they are just "folk," and differences in appearance mean nothing.

Every detail of their actions and personalities are perfectly suited to the setting and the story. The travellers encounter places called Yell and Purgtree, and travel through land inhabited by creatures called Howls and Ships. They endure hunger, loss, injury, and high adventure.

In the end, Granville leaves plenty of room for a sequel. I, personally, can't wait to read it. Any time a writer leaves a reader hungry for more of the story, that is a book worth more than 5 stars.


Read an excerpt

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