Rarity from the Hollow, by Robert Eggleton

Rarity from the Hollow, by Robert Eggleton book coverGenre:  Fantasy
Publisher: Dog Horn Publishing
Published:  2012
Reviewer Rating: three stars
Reviewer:  David L. Felts

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Let me get my genre classification out the way, as those of you who’ve read this (or might read it) could potentially disagree. Despite a spaceship, space-travel, androids, and aliens, I’m calling this one fantasy because none of the science fiction elements are firmly grounded in reality. Too, there are elements that are pure fantasy, such as talking trees and rocks. I’m not making a judgement as to whether this genre-fluidity is good or bad, but the book defies easy categorization.

There are some shining bits here, but, likewise, there are some dull ones as well. Eggleton does a fantastic job at capturing the poverty experience. Lacy Dawn, the young girl protagonist, live with an abusive veteran father in a ramshackle house in a place where it’s not uncommon for the welfare people to come calling. Her father’s truck is always broke, her mother’s teeth are rotten, and one of the best presents she ever got was an old refrigerator cardboard box to play in… at least until her father destroyed it.

But Lacy Dawn is not your average backwoods kid. Somewhere along the way, her genetic line captured the attention of advanced aliens, who somehow identified that she possessed the characteristics that would eventually be needed to save the universe. Throughout millennia, her ancestors have been monitored and now she finds herself to be the culmination of her preceding genetics. Yes, it’s up to Lacy Dawn to save the universe. And her father and mother too. And the alien android named DotCom who tutors her in his hidden spaceship.

lacy Dawn is a unique mix of characteristics. At once incredibly educated, due to the “learning modules” DotCom exposes her to on his spaceship, while at the same time naive and immature, sometimes to the point where these two extremes of character seemed at odds. Like many children of abuse, she is at once mature while at the same time undeniably a child.

Despite Lacy Dawn’s tender age (I think she’s 10 or so at the start?) this isn’t a book for kids. Older teens might enjoy it though.

As Lacy Dawn ages, DotCom exposes her to more and more of her mission, as well as performing favors for her such as fixing her father’s mental problems, which ultimately fixes her parent’s marriage and diffuses her father’s abuse. As Lacy Dawn learns more about her purpose and importance, she begins to exert some control over her fate, and finds herself in a position where she’s able to make some demands of the supreme alien who recruited her.

All in all, and imaginative and well written book, especially when narrating the down and dirty “in the hollow” life of poverty and lack of opportunity.

That said, there were several things that distracted me to the point of interfering with my reading experience.

Eggleton has a habit of dropping in omniscient observations in the way of relaying character’s thoughts. Not an unheard of device, but he does this a lot and for all his characters. Sometimes I didn’t know whose thoughts they were, and most time they interfered with the flow of the narrative. I could have done without them, and so, too, could the story I think.

The name of the planet (which is actually a giant mall, providing Eggleton with some opportunity for satirizing comment on our consumerist culture) is Shptiludrp. Really? Why would an author create some unpronounceable word the reader is expected to read a few dozen times as the name of a place? Every time I hit it, it knocked right out of the story. Ultimately I just went with Shitlip, which has its own problems.

And lastly, the whole save the universe thing. When Lacy Dawn finally figures out and faces up to the eons long mission of her genetic line, it’s underwhelming. Rather than humorous, which I’m supposing is how the situation was supposed to play out, I found it stupid and vapid and not in the least bit funny. I actually felt some resentment that I’d read so much only to reach a climax that was, to me, so disappointing.

I hesitate to make a recommendation. In the overall, I think the positive outweighs the negative. Rarity From the Hollow is much like anchovies; the only way to know if you like the taste is to try them. Some people will like them, and some people won’t.

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