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An Exchange of Hostages by Susan R. Matthews rebelaessedai Send a noteboard - 02/01/2012 07:12:32 AM
The premise of this book is very intriguing. A young man, Andrej Koscuisko, is bound by familial duty to become Ship's Inquisitor, using his medical skills to learn the fine art of torture. Andrej, however, is a healer, and must deal with the disturbing reality of going against all that he believes. Add to that interpersonal struggles and military politics, and you've got a hell of an idea for a story.

As a work of fiction, this book let me down in parts. The writing style took time to get used to and required concentration just to avoid rereading. Because of this, I had to gradually sink into the story instead of eating it up, which is my reading preference.

An Exchange of Hostages certainly provided an... interesting... character study. Andrej's character, as the protagonist, was well fleshed out. Matthews uses Andrej to demonstrate the layers of a complex personality under stresses most of us could not comprehend, and she does a good job of it. There were a few moments, however, when even I was disgusted and horrified by what Andrej was capable of. While the horrors of his situation and the ways he learned to deal with them were central to developing his character, some readers may be turned off by the extent to which Matthews went in realizing his character so fully.

Mergau Noycannir, Andrej's fellow Student, was my least favorite character. At first, I found myself relating to her ambition if not her attitude. Her background as a kid from unfortunate circumstances who has to work for everything she has gives her a dose of humanity that her character desperately needs. As she goes through the story, however, she loses even that small piece of likeability, and by the end I loathed every thought she had.

As a piece of dystopian literature, this book did not disappoint. I was frightened by this culture, more so because it seemed very relevant. The politics of militaristic society were three-dimensional and very well realized. Other than the known fact that torture doesn't result in reliable information, this type of Bench-run society could be in our future. And in some ways, that fact about torture is part of the horror of this book- all a prisoner has to do is mention your name under interrogation and you're FUCKED. Trial by Advanced Level, saved for the worst crimes supposedly committed, results in your death whether you're guilty or not. Or perhaps I've got that wrong- that was just the impression I got. Perhaps other books in the series will deal with false charges.

I know I'm definitely looking forward to continuing this story. Overall, it was worth the read and is a thought-provoking journey into a deranged society that may just have a warning for our own.
Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position. - Bill Maher
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An Exchange of Hostages by Susan R. Matthews - 02/01/2012 07:12:32 AM 6044 Views
Thanks for your review, April. - 03/01/2012 04:14:51 PM 701 Views
- 05/01/2012 03:09:16 AM 658 Views
Good review, April. - 03/01/2012 06:17:07 PM 668 Views
Thanks. - 05/01/2012 03:10:51 AM 695 Views
I also didn't like it. - 04/01/2012 12:57:48 AM 682 Views
Fair enough. - 05/01/2012 03:15:13 AM 723 Views

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