Series: Stephanie Harrington #2
Published by Baen (10.1.2012)
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: I own it
Fire in the forest–and a cry for help from a trapped and desperate alien mother! Unfortunately, this is one cry no human can hear. Stephanie Harrington, precocious fourteen-year-old Provisional Forest Ranger on the planet Sphinx, knows something is wrong from the uneasy emotion that is flooding into her from her treecat friend, Climbs Quickly. But though Stephanie’s alien comrade shares a tight bond with his two-legs, whom he knows as Death Fang’s Bane, he cannot communicate directly to her the anguished call from one of his people.
Still, their strong and direct bond of feeling may be enough. Stephanie and fellow ranger Karl Zivonik respond to Climbs Quickly’s rising waves of distress. Fire season on the pioneer world of Sphinx has begun. But there are those who want to use the natural cycle of the planet for personal gain –and to get rid of the one obstacle that stands in the way of acquiring even greater land and power on Spinx: the native treecats.
Now it’s up to Stephanie, Climbs Quickly along with their friends, family, and allies to prevent disaster and injustice from befalling a treecat clan. But in the process Stephanie must be certain to preserve the greatest secret all. It is the knowledge that the treecats of Sphinx are not merely pets or servants, but are highly intelligent in their own right–that they are a species fully deserving of rights, respect, and freedom. And keeping the secret that will allow the treecats time to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with humankind.
It all begins with the friendship of a girl and her treecat.
I’m SO sad I didn’t love this one like I did the first book. The shining star of the first is the relationship between Lionheart/Climbs Quickly and Stephanie, and I felt like it took a bit of a backseat in this one. It’s still fairly prominent, and still utterly beautiful and endearing; but it’s lessened from A Beautiful Friendship. We spent less time with Lionheart and that diminished my enjoyment a lot.
I really could have done without the romance, or almost-romance-whatever between Anders and Stephanie. It kind of ruined this book for me, to be honest. Their relationship took over the story, as well as the xenobiologist crew’s story line and the fires (which I totally get that it’s called Fire Season, but there was more focus on the technicalities and fire-fighting aspect than all of the characters being in danger. Read: it was not exciting). Oh, and I outright haaaated Anders’ chapters. I did a lot of skimming because they were just so insufferably boring. His dad sucked too, and I could not give two shits about that whole crew and how they were stuck in the forest because Anders’ dad is a moron.
There’s also a lot of focus on teenage stuff, such as Stephanie’s hormones and getting her license. She was overwhelmingly annoying in this one (I don’t remember her being like that in the first book). I get that she’s a teenager – yeah, we were all young and stupid once – but she’s so smart about so many other things (almost unbelievably so) that some of her decisions came off too young, even for her, and it irritated the shit out of me. It felt extremely young compared to the first book to the point that it almost felt like Middle Grade.
I did love the addition of some new Treecat members! Right-Striped and Left-Striped (although their names were stupid AF, sorry), the Damp Ground clan, and the Treecat that bonded with Stephanie’s friend, both of whom I cannot for the life of me remember the name of. I loved that there were more new bonds!
Overall, I was rather bored with the majority of this book and just wanted it to be over. It felt quite long for being such a short book. It did pick up and finally get exciting in the last 25% or so, which rekindled my enjoyment of the series. I’ll read the 3rd book eventually.
Writing style: 3/5
Characters: 3/5 (all for the Treecats)
Overall rating: 2.5/5