ODIN'S VOICE TRILOGY: reviews
Susan Price is one of those authors whose latest novels are always eagerly anticipated and with Odin's Voice she has delivered the first of a trilogy that is epic and exhilarating.
This opening instalment introduces us to two very different girls. Kylie is a poor oppressed bonder and Affroditey - Affie - a wealthy spoiled snob who has been genetically designed. Their paths cross when both find their situations significantly altered. Kylie becomes an adored God-speaker, gaining the freedom and power she has never known, while the suicide of Affie's father sees her solds off as a bonder. Kylie rescues Affie from the despair of her newfound status while Affie holds the key to Kylie recovering her son, 'adopted' by her ex-employer. The tension builds as both girls decide to escape Earth and begin a new life on Mars.
The most fascinating element of this story is the world Price has created - a fusion between what we imagine our future holds (colonies on Mars, computerised taxis) and facets of our past (a slave culture, the worship of ancient gods.) We never find out why life on Earth has taken this course yet it is not important - Price indulges both our hopes and fears for the future and in doing so creates a world that is both familiar and utterly unimaginable.
This is a book that will particularly appeal to teenage girls, although it definately has cross-over appeal in a time when more and more adults are devouring fantasy and sci-fi books that target children. The plot, although not complicated, is sophisticated enough to retain the interest of older readers. The ending is abrupt, but with the story moving to Mars in the second instalment readers will be eager to learn the fates of Kylie and Affie and discover more about this strange futuristic world Price has concocted. A wonderful book that illustrated just how unrestrained our imaginations can be.
Amanda Fennelly - 2005
School Library Association, Winter 2005
Susan Price's new novel is set in a divided future where the wealthy are genetically designed, slavery is socially acceptable and pagan religions have made a revival. Against this backdrop, two teenagers cross the social divide in opposite directions. Affie, a rich and pampered teenager, is sold into bondage following her debt-ridden father's suicide; Kylie, a downtrodden bonder, is released from slavery to become Odinstoy, the revered mouthpiece of the Norse God, Odin. Brought together by Kylie's young son, who has been adopted by Affie's employers, the two young women plot a kidnap and their escape to Mars to help set up a new society.
Although this isn't a particuarly fast-paced or action-packed novel, Susan Price's skilful, measured and authoratative writing style makes this a compulsive and thrilling read. Some dedicated sci-fi fans will bemoan the lack of detai provided about the new society, its technology and social mores; however it doesn't detract from the pleasure of the story. Odin's Voice is an intriguing first instalment to Susan Price's new Mars trilogy.
BOOKS FOR KEEPS
Kylie is a ‘bonder’ owned by an agency and bonded to a ‘freewoman’ whose house she cleans and child she cares for. Her clandestine visits to the ‘gatherings’ at Odin’s temple lead to her being viewed as a prophet, the voice of the god Odin himself.
Affroditey, meanwhile, lives a wealthy and pampered life until she loses her free status and becomes bonded herself. She and Kylie become close and together they plan an escape as emigrees to Mars, where a free pioneering society exists. Many parrallels, both historical and for the future, exist between our world and Kylie’s. Genetically designed characters, ID cards depending on biometric data, a cctv-observed life, plus hackers determined to break through security barriers, bring chillingly, after 7/7, a possible future to light.
I was reading Price’s A STERKARM KISS when this arrived: though set in a very different world, she once again provides a fast moving story which comments on the way government and society exploit or are exploited, mixing historical elements and displaying her interest in dialects as she tweaks the language to differentiate between speakers of different backgrounds. Her message is one of ‘power to the people’ – it will be interesting to see how Kylie and Affie fare in the next volumes of the Mars trilogy.
THE TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT
…The devious old god [Odin] turns up again in Odin’s Voice, though here he is an object of worship in another futureworld, not unlike that of The Handmaid’s Tale: here too, there are the free and the subservient (“the bonders”). Like Margaret Atwood, Price is interested in the exercise of control devoid of compassion. The members of the dominant social class are “designed” with little awareness of others or self.
A section in which the created-free Affroditey,one of the two central characters, becomes a bonder is almost physically painful to read as her dignity and privileges are stripped away. This is a calculating world in which Price persuades her readers to care for characters who have few initially sympathetic qualities.
In a dystopian future where slavery is the norm and human genetic modification commonplace, people still believe devoutly in the power of ancient gods. Blessed with the gift of speaking Odin's words, Kylie is offered her freedom, but Affroditey falls victim to the barbaric society whose freedoms she has always enjoyed without question. Their growing friendship offers hope and, eventually, the possibility of escape from a so-called civilisation disconcertingly reflective of our own. Enthralling.
Reading Age: 13+
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