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Cagebird Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 2005
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Lowachee's third space opera depicts the conflict begun in Warchild (2002) and burndive (2003) from another point of view, that of a young pirate. Although only 22, Yuri Kirov is a former pirate captain now in stir doing a life sentence. Then Earth Hub black-ops agents make him an offer he can't refuse: to return to the pirate organization as their agent. Lowachee interweaves the past and the present, showing the episodes in Yuri's past that formed his present attitudes and actions. She uses this technique skillfully, and produces a seamless whole featuring some memorable characters, including Ryan Azercon, the protagonist of Burndive, as Yuri sees him. This installment in the series stands on its own very well, so there's no need to know its predecessors before plunging into it for good action reading's sake. Frieda Murray
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About the Author
Karin Lowachee was born in Guyana, South America and moved to Toronto, Canada when she was two. Before her foray into fantasy, she wrote three highly-acclaimed science fiction novels - Warchild, Burndive, and Cagebird. Warchild won the Warner Aspect First Novel Award and Cagebird won the 2006 Gaylactic Spectrum Award and the Prix Aurora Award and was a finalist for the 2002 Philip K. Dick Award. She currently resides in Ontario, Canada.
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Here are few points which may elucidate my position
1. She seems to have oversexualized this book in a way in which it is at many times awkward, distasteful, unnecessary, or making very little. I'm not a prude or anything, I have read and enjoyed books with far more sexualized in nature, however in those books there was reason behind the author's choices. In this book, it seems as if the author is attempting to sexualize every single moment which can possibly be sexualized and it makes it seem like very obviously forced pandering.
2. This criticism is along the lines of point 1. the inclusion of graphic rape and pedophilia throughout the book is really disgusting and distasteful. One of the main relationships in the novel which Karin pushes is between a 13 year old and a 22 year old. Just like point 1, she makes it unnaturally and unnecessarily saturate the entirety of the story. It seems as if every single person in the story is either a rapist or a rape victim. If any bad thing happened in a character's past there is a 90% chance that it was rape.
There are just so many pedos throughout the books that it grows from disturbing to tiresome very quickly. It is as if this is Karin's only tool for story progression. Want to train to be a ship captain? Karin makes half of the training involve learning how to be a child sex slave. Want to perform a weapon deal? Karin closes the deal with child rape. Want a host too keep you from spending the night off the street? Karin requires you to have sex with the host every other night. Want to maintain order on your ship? Karin makes a massive class of child and adult prostitutes for no real reason.
It is really painful to get through with all of this.
3. The story is very flat and lackluster. if you were looking for something exciting then you chose wrong. There is almost nothing unexpected. The overall plot is very weak. this is not helped by the fact that 50% of the book is a lengthy backstory. character development is great except when it pushes the main plot to the margins of the story. There is not much in terms of meaningful resolution. You get to the end of the book and notice that the characters did not really accomplish anything at all.
4. The pacing is very slow, especially at the end of the book.
5. There are many plot holes and more questions raised than answered. It seems as if the entire purpose of this book is to set up for a sequel. setup is fine so long as it doesn't cause neglect the the plot of the current book. This books does not seem to move the plot of the series much at all.
6. Bad editing which in many parts results in sentences which don't even make sense.
Overall, if this is the route that this series will continue on and if Karin is proud of this sad work, than I would say that this book may be the end of this series for me. Not by plot resolution, but rather through unexpectedly bad writing. This book was a painful read but a very quick one. The only reasoned I managed to finish it is because I hate leaving even terrible books half read.
If you care at all for your money, your time, or your sanity then you should not waste any of it on this book.
Cagebird is the third novel in Karin Lowachee’s science fiction series exploring how a war psychologically impacts boys. The series starts with Warchild, which I still believe to be the best in the series. While each book has a different protagonist, I would recommend reading them in order.
At the age of four, Yuri Kirov’s home was destroyed in one of the initial attacks in the war between the humans/alien war. When the pirates found him, he was a child refugee who became trained as Falcone’s protege. Now at twenty-two he is a killer and a criminal serving out a life sentence on Earth. Then two men from the Black Ops decide that they’d rather Yuri return to the pirates to be their spy and weapon, but their plan puts him in more danger than ever.
In my review of Warchild I talked about how brutal and uncomfortable to read the book was. This is even more so for Cagebird, and at a certain point it just became too much. There are multiple, explicit rape scenes, all taking place before Yuri is fifteen. I question the necessity of showing such graphic scenes, especially as they were all flashbacks and not part of the current narrative.
Speaking of flashbacks, it felt like they comprised the majority of the book. I felt that this had the effect of putting the focus on all the horrible things that had happened in Yuri’s past instead of on a healing arc, which ended up feeling skimped. For a book where one of the end messages is “look to your future not your past,” Cagebird sure did spend a lot of time on the graphic details of Yuri’s past.
The current timeline did have a lot of promise, but I feel that much of it was underdeveloped. Take Finch’s character – he played such a large role in Yuri’s arc but he never felt like he was well characterized and developed. He seems to only exist in connection to Yuri.
So why did this book cross the three star mark? Because whatever the faults of the book, Karin Lowachee can write. She immediately establishes Yuri as having a distinctive voice, and I did end up feeling like I understood and sympathized with him, which from what I knew about him going in, I wasn’t sure would happen. There’s also some value in the messages of the current timeline, such as “you can get acclimatized to any environment, but it doesn’t mean the environment is a good one.”
What it comes down to is this: Does Cagebird‘s good points outweigh the focus on the sheer brutality? For me, it didn’t, and it’s not a book I’m going to ever reread. On the other hand, I am willing to continue with the series if Lowachee ever publishes a fourth book. I would still recommend Warchild and Burndive but I would advice anyone contemplating Cagebird to be aware of their own limits before starting.
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