Handle with Care

Book title: Handle with Care
Author: Jodi Picoult
Status: finished

Yet another engrossing family drama of Picoult's, spiced with her trademark blend of medicine, law and love. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe's daughter, Willow, was born with brittle bone disease, a condition that requires Charlotte to act as full-time caregiver and has strained their emotional and financial limits. Willow's teenaged half-sister, Amelia, suffers as well, overshadowed by Willow's needs and lost in her own adolescent turmoil. When Charlotte decides to sue for wrongful birth in order to obtain a settlement to ensure Willow's future, the already strained family begins to implode. Not only is the defendant Charlotte's best friend, but the case requires Charlotte and Sean to claim that had they known of Willow's condition, they would have terminated the pregnancy, a statement that strikes at the core of their faith and family.


No hidden agenda, nothing unexpected, even Picoult's signature closing "twists", the death of Willow in this case, has become so formulaic that I could see that one coming half way through the book, and therefore can no longer call it a "twist". Having said that, I couldn't deny that it's a well-researched, domestic-and-legal-drama-told-through-multiple-viewpoints framework of Picoult's. Like all Picoult's books, this one is a page turner, though not as heart-wrenching and thought provoking as her other works. I still think Picoult's writing is captivating, that's what she does, to tackle tough subjects in a stimulating manner, yet this book is losing momentum, there's a lack of plot twists.

Maybe Picoult's focus is on underscoring the themes of hope, regret, identity and family, but there is no single one character whom I like in this book, which is a huge setback.

The Dragonriders of Pern

Book title: Dragonflight (Dragonriders of Pern, Book 1)
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Status: finished

Pern is a planet inhabited by humans. The original colonists were reduced to a low level of technology by periodic onslaughts of deadly Thread raining down from the sky. The dragons, with their human riders, destroyed the Thread in the skies over Pern before it was able to burrow into the land and breed. However, an unusually long interval between attacks, centuries in duration, has caused the general population to gradually dismiss the threat and withdraw support from the Weyrs where dragons are bred and trained. Only one Weyr remains (the other five having mysteriously disappeared at the same time in the last quiet interval), maintaining a precarious hand-to-mouth existence.

To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright. But everything changes when F'lar finds Lessa while Searching for candidates to Impress a new queen dragon Ramoth. Lessa becomes the Weyrwoman, and her hereditary telepathic abilities allow her to travel four hundred turns into the past to bring the five 'missing' Weyrs forward to her present in desperate times.

Anne McCaffrey has created a whole new world of fantasy in which dragons and riders bond for a purpose. This book is a page turner no doubt, though I dislike Lessa at first. Over time, Lessa's bravery and quickness outshines her recklessness, and like F'lar, readers would come to love her; annoyed by her often, yes, but couldn't help but love her.

Dragons are powerful creatures for sure, and the idea of dragons being able to go in "between", a means to teleport themselves between time and space, is refreshing and intriguing indeed, though I still fail to see how ancient, powerful and fearsome they are. Unlike Christopher Paolini's "Eragon", Anne McCaffrey's dragons don't have much character; they're more like riders' pets, obedient and loyal, but not the ancient, mysterious, powerful and magical species as featured in other fantasies.