Psion Alpha (Psion, #4) by Jacob Gowans
I just committed 14 days to 2420 pages of the five-book Psion Series.
The series has 2564 five-star reviews on Goodreads, and about as many four-star reviews. There are hardly any one or two starred reviews.
Everyone who read these books loved them. So, obviously, I loved them too.
Here’s what I liked.
I wonder when I’ll get bored of stories about kids with unique talents being discovered and shipped off to special kid school so they can learn to use their talent to save the world? Never, I suspect.
What about stories about underdogs overthrowing oppressive governments? Doesn’t get old.
How about stories about unlikely heroes? Troubled, imperfect good guys who have to overcome their personal demons before they can save the ones they love? Sacrificing yourself for your friends? Young love? Please—give me more! More, more, more!
The Psion Series has it all. No offensive language or sex either.
I like it.
Here’s what’s complicated:
First, the writing is unpolished. I’m trying to be polite—I have tremendous respect for anyone that writes, so I hate calling out the writing. But I do call it as I see it. The writing improves as the series goes on, but those first three books were really hard to get through. Even by the end though, it reads more like a middle-grade book than anything. Which actually isn’t really that much of an issue…
…except for the other complication.
The Psion series sees an Ender and raises a Rambo. These kids die violently. And kill violently. Really, really violently.
For all of the chaste love and elementary-school expletives, there is an exponential elevation of violence. I’m talking blood and guts, full descriptions, gore, smells, feels, emotions, no holding back. It’s the weirdest thing. It’s a middle-grade story with grown-up violence.
What do I do with that?
I WANT to recommend The Psion Series—the story is a lot of fun and I cared about the characters.
I can’t recommend it to my kids because of the strong, bloody, and frequent violence—even though the writing, language, and relationships are perfectly on their level.
I can’t recommend it to my adult friends because the juvenile writing is lame. To be clear, I’m not talking about lack of swearing or sex as juvenile. I’m talking about the actual writing. It was just plain hard to read.
So, I’ll just do my job. I liked The Psion Series, but I didn’t like the writing. I liked the clean language and chaste love, but didn’t like the violence.
If you can look past the complicated and appreciate the good, I think you’ll find a series worth investing in. If you’re going to get hung up on complicated, you’d better not waste your time.