A Coming of Age Hardcover – Mar 1985
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About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The narrative itself is interesting, if not brilliant. Per usual with this author, we get very competent prose and intelligent, likable protagonists. There are a few flaws here: the villain is pretty bland, the storyline is only barely strong enough to last 300 pages, and there're a few plot contrivances here and there. Plus for the first half of the book one basically has to take the author's word that the different story arcs have anything to do with each other. But since I've spent two whole sentances on flaws, I'll also have to mention that Zahn does a good job with most of his characters; I particularly liked the kids, Lisa and Tonio. And the central concept is a nice twist on the old "magical power that comes at a certain age" cliché.
I'm not an expert on Timothy Zahn - until about a year ago I only knew his Star Wars stuff - but I'd highly recommend A Coming Of Age along with any other Zahn you can find, since everything I've read so far from this guy has been top-notch.
The planet Tigris is strange not necessarily for its flora, fauna, or alien life. Something about the planet has bestowed a "gift" upon anyone between the ages of 5 and puberty--telekinesis. This "gift", however, quickly turned into a curse during the Lost Generation, in which much technology was lost. Since then, society has changed to reign in the children who have this ability to "teek" anything they see or touch.
Lisa Duncan is a preteen (actually 14, but she hasn't yet reached puberty) who is not looking forward to losing her gifts in Transition. So, she decides to get ahead on some schooling and learn how to read. However, this proves to be a serious error and leads her into much trouble.
Meanwhile, a scientist, Dr. Matthew Jarvis, kidnaps a 5-year old orphan boy and starts some break-through experiments on him that could uproot the entire Tigrin society. Stanley Tirrell and his righthand, Tonio, a preteen, rush out to find the lost boy and to keep Dr. Jarvis' discovery from falling into the wrong hands.
Wow! I was not exactly looking forward to reading this book just because the concept didn't sound that interesting. But as I started reading, the story drew me further and further in. I felt Lisa's pain at seeing her childhood come to a close. I understood her actions to try to "get ahead" of the crowd. I also cheered on Tirrell and Tonio as they slowly picked their way through the rubble of the mystery.
Besides pretty interesting characters (namely Lisa Duncan and Tirrell in a smaller sense), the story is awesome. Timothy Zahn creates this world without spending pages upon pages of boring history lessons. He retells it only as necessary and convinces me as the reader that the characters know their history and don't feel like they have to regurgitate it for the audience to understand what is going on.
There is enough action towards the end to grip the audience. You are never quite sure who will win in the end.
Very minimal. The language was quite intense, which was quite unlike Zahn. Also, the villain, Omega, was rather dry, certainly nothing like his villain, Thrawn.
A lot of da**, he**, and sh**. Mention is made of a sexual relationship between two teens and the kidnapped child is illegitimate. The Lost Generation wrought havoc on society 200 years previously. Omega is not afraid to use children and their teekay power to harm others.
Impressive! Most impressive! For a book that I thought would be dull, this kept me very entertained. Give it to Timothy Zahn to pull off another good book!
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First off, let's tackle the setting. Sometime in the past, a generation ship arrived and colonized the planet. The inhabitants ran into a strange side effect while on the planet: the kids gain super powers at the age of five. Specifically, the children gain the power of telekinesis, or teekay, which allows them to fly and to move any objects they can see or touch. They're so powerful that adults are helpless to stop them. This situation creates an environment where adults live in fear of children.
There is a counterbalance to the super powers, however. When the kids reach puberty, they go through the Transition and lose their powers, their teekay. Thus everyone turns normal as they grow up. In order to keep the preteens inline, society created a system where the kids are placed in daycares called hives. They are raised to respect authority and are forbidden any education involving reading or writing. Older preteens are used to enforce the rules on the younger kids. Thus society lives on with a degree of stability.
The core of the story is centered on a preteen named Lisa. She's an overachiever worried about puberty and the Transition. She desperately wants an advantage that will lessen the stress of all the changes. Alongside her story thread is detective Tirrell and his righthand Tonio. They start off tracking down a smuggling racket and quickly get side tracked into a kidnapping case. Then there's a scientist and his young test subject who are trying to break the rules of this planet and its weird mutational side effects. All of these plots merge together into a fairly fun and interesting story.
The content and focus of the book is a perfect fit for the young adult market. If you are looking for good, clean, safe fiction, then this fits the bill. It's also very different and very unique, which works well in keeping the reader engaged. All in all it's an appealing story and I give it a three out of five.
There are so many older novels that simply got run over by new styles or trends. But do not be afraid, I can assure you that this is not the case with A Coming of Age. Timothy Zahn writes with a straight-forward matter-o-fact style that never gets old. His world building is so subtle than you don't even notice when and where he explained all that unknown customs and terms.
I can become overwhelmed if authors piles up all the data at the beginning of book or if he keeps bombarding me with unknown (invented) words. Sometimes, I can even give up reading the book altogether because of that. So this is a BIG plus for me.
When the Humans colonized planet Tigris, they never imagined that it would lead to genetic mutations that will trigger telekinetic powers in kids at the age of five. Or that those same powers will inexplicably disappear when children reach puberty.
When someone first mentions telekinesis my first association is moving and throwing objects around. But Timothy Zahn gives us a delightful new aspect to this ability - flying. Anybody else thinking about 'Peter Pan'? :)
Unfortunately (as we all know) children are usually the ultimate hedonists. The do not plan or think about the future - they only want to satisfy their current needs. So what will happen if that type of humans had the most power in society? And what would be solution to that?
In A Coming of Age, Timothy Zahn does not gives us a pretty picture of society. This is a great book for a book club to discuss possible alternatives and flaws in the structure Tigris' society is organised.
We are introduced to the world of planet Tigris through eyes of a couple of characters: Lisa Duncan (coming of age teen who is going to lose her telekinetic powers soon), Stanford Tirrell (quirky detective working on a child-kidnaping case), Dr. Matthew Jarvis (brilliant scientists) and Prophet Omega (shady leader of mysterious new cult).
Altough character building of others is not neglected, most attention is devoted to Lisa Duncan. When you read about her thoughts and fears, you read about the usual problems that coming of age teens meet: dealing with changes in your body and how the society and your friends will accept them.
You gotta like Lisa - she is smart, innovative, ambitious, inquisitive... And she is not afraid to break the rules. ;)
In the end, of course, all the plot lines untangle and all the characters clash together in an ultimate showdown. Yes, there is big aerial battle. ;)
This book has something for everybody. A little bit of mystery, coming of age teen problems, dystopian fiction about oppressive government and enough action and adventure to keep you interested until the end.
I recommend this book to fans of: classic science fiction, quirky detectives, coming of age stories or speculative fiction about colonization of other planets.
Disclaimer: I was given a free ebook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. This review is also posted on Goodreads and my blog.