Review: The Pioneer

The Pioneer The Pioneer by Bridget Tyler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars boosted because of the way cultural/species sensitivity issues are handled.

The Pioneer is a science fiction novel aimed at young adults/teens. It sort of loosely falls into the space opera genre owing to its taking place in another solar system, its spirit of adventure (pioneering!) and light melodrama aspects. It's not tech-heavy sci-fi. There's a bit of handwaving about the way travel from earth to Tau Ceti e is accomplished, and the young pilots charged with shuttling people and cargo are all teens who got their PhDs and MDs at a very early age. (In that sense, The Pioneer is quite aspirational, viewing teens as intellectually capable of fulfilling important roles in pioneering in space.)

Jo Walton is a young woman who was a hotshot pilot until an accident in space robbed her of her brother, her health, and her pilot's health clearance. She's a civilian on her mother's expedition to Tau Ceti e but her natural curiosity leads her to discover some troubling facts about what was supposed to be a planet without sentient beings. Soon the Waltons, their team, and two different sentient races are embroiled in ethical conflicts about humans' right to colonize the planet.

I enjoyed this book but wasn't enamored of the cliffhanger ending and its implications. The potential for melodrama in the sequel seems high. But Tyler has offered young adults some important topics for thought on the issue of cultural interference and integrity and the moral role that space explorers are bound to play. Very much in the vein of Star Trek (Next Generation and Voyager, particularly). Overall, I enjoyed it and enjoyed the positive female and teen role models.

This would be an good book for summer reading for teens.

I received a Digital Review Copy from Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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