Book Review: Acorna

Book Review: AcornaAcorna: The Unicorn Girl (Acorna #1) by Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Ball, John Ennis
Published by Turtleback Books on June 1st 2000
Pages: 400
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She was just a little girl, with a tiny horn in the center of her forehead, funny-looking feet, beautiful silver hair, and several curious powers: the ability to purify air and water, make plants grow, and heal scars and broken bones. A trio of grizzled prospectors found her drifting in an escape pod amid the asteroids, adopted her, and took her to the bandit planet Kezdet, a place where no questions are asked and the girl might grow up free.
But Kezdet has its own dark secret. The prosperity of the planet is based on a hideous trade in child slave labor, administered by "The Piper" -- a mystery man with special plans for Acorna and her powers. But free little girls have a way of growing into freedom-loving young women, and Acorna has special plans all her own. . .

I first grew interested in Anne McCaffrey’s and Margaret Ball’s Acorna when I was a young girl. I was captured by the cover of a pretty silver haired girl with a horn and hooves. But this book unfortunately proved the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” right. My attempt to read Acorna and I ended up getting rid of the novel. Fast forward to present day and I decided to give the book another chance. I was hopeful after reading and enjoying McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern that maybe I was just too young to read Acorna previously. And what could be more fun that reading about a girl who was part unicorn? Unfortunately, I found that the answer was anything.


I was dismayed that this book was not really focused on Acorna at all. Instead, it was a story about the three miners that found the little unicorn girl and took care of her. Of course, many people were fascinated by Acorna and wanted her for experiments or other dark purposes. So the miners were forced to whisk her away to new planets to keep her safe. While this may sound exciting, it really wasn’t. There was no sense of urgency or growing danger at all—even when they relocated to the most dangerous planet in the galaxy. Any people that threatened Acorna or her companions were magically and easily dealt with.


What’s more, none of the miners seemed very upset that they had to give up their lives and careers in order to take care of their new ward. Acorna too, felt no guilt at the changes she had wrought on her caretakers’ lives. When Acorna magically aged over night into a stunning young woman, she still remained unconcerned about things that should have been important—who she was and where she came from, what happened to her race of people—and to my horror, she instead focused on the child labor on the planet. And suddenly, I found that I was reading a book about a female activist who was determined to free all the enslaved and abused children on the planet.


Needless to say, this was not at all what I expected. Sure, Acorna sometimes used her horn to heal the wounds of these poor children, but that was about as magical as the book got. Though the children revered her as the goddess Epona, I however, felt no attachment to Acorna or any of the other flat characters. I simply didn’t care if Acorna and her companions ran into any trouble, because I knew they’d easily find a solution. Any parts of the story that had interested me were either glossed over or ignored.


Ultimately, Acorna had enormous potential and such an original idea, but fell so unbelievably short. I was really disappointed to find a book that wasn’t about a unicorn girl who struggled to overcome prejudices, danger, and other adversity to find her place in society. What McCaffrey and Ball gave me was a bland young woman, who felt very little fear or curiosity at her differences and was immediately loved by everyone who met her. As such, Acorna and its characters were completely uncompelling and I will not be reading the next books in the series.


Posted July 17, 2015 in Book Reviews, Science Fiction

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