Monday, August 11, 2014

Surfing the Human Wave: Cedar Sanderson's The God's Wolfling

As you know, teaching is my mundane profession -- and as most of my students fall in the 12-17 age range, I consequently have several years' worth of experience working with teenagers and discovering what they really need academically and developmentally. What does this have to do with Cedar Sanderson's latest, The God's Wolfling? Plenty. Cedar, in my opinion, really gets it. She doesn't talk down to her young audience; rather, she invites them into our adult world by giving her adolescent protagonists mature responsibilities and, overall, demanding more. Linn - whom you may remember from last year's Vulcan's Kittens (reviewed here) - is not treated as helpless; on the contrary, when she displays a restless desire to contribute, the adults in her life recognize the need and give her the opportunity to prove herself, sending her to the court of the sea god Manannan Mac'Lir and into potentially mortal danger.

The God's Wolfling isn't really a direct sequel to Vulcan's Kittens but more an additional stand-alone story in the same universe. Vulcan's Kittens sets up a future confrontation between humanity and the alien "gods" who feel Earth's technological development is a threat to their power, but oddly, The God's Wolfling doesn't seem to address that conflict at all. Instead, the antagonists here are the goblins, who resent being trapped on Earth and are looking for the portal back to the "gods'" home planet. The story is interesting and engaging, but I am a little surprised that Cedar chose to drop the "Old Ones" from the story; the battle at the end of Vulcan's Kittens, after all, didn't seem to end the war.

On the other hand, as I noted above, Cedar has a sure hand when it comes to writing teenagers, and her refusal to yield to the "helicopter parenting" trends of our age is immensely refreshing. Additionally, she manages to add a young male character to the tale without immediately succumbing to the urge to pair him off with Linn. Indeed, Linn's attitude regarding boys in general is, thankfully, quite balanced; she notices them but doesn't let those thoughts consume her life. Ironic, isn't it? Cedar is an outspoken opponent of the "social justice warrior" faction, and yet she's one of the few writers out there who successfully writes female characters who aren't defined by their male counterparts. Could it be that libertarian individualism has more to offer the cause of "equality"?

But I digress. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed The God's Wolfling. It's not a perfect book, but it's very, very good.

Final Verdict: Recommended.

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