Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: Haze by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Haze by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

A Book Review by Valerie Cosrkey

A book suitable for a YA audience in content--easy-going, but interspersed with lively action; implicitly deeply philosophical; no obscenities, overt sex, or pathological-character action; and mild violence--Haze gently leads the reader to question the authority of a successful government's control over the lives of its citizens. It posits a near-Utopian society as the enemy of such a government. The main character is an enforcement agent with the rank of major who finds himself assigned to infiltrate and spy on the enemy culture.

The book reveals Agent Major Roget's character in a series of flashbacks to other missions he had accomplished on the home world of Earth. That is the bare bones of the story outline, but within this skeleton is fine storytelling that begins almost too gently to persuade one to finish the book until you realize that you really care about Roget and wonder what all the flashbacks are trying to tell you.

By the end of the book, and with no pedantic passages, you have had an education in democracy, political and governmental institutions, freedom vs. governance, and philosophy. However, the book is filled with wonderful 1-2 sentences of quotable remarks on these subjects, especially appreciated from a Humanist worldview. A discussion of this book in high school and college classes of history, government, and science would be enriching. There is much in the writing style, plot structure, themes and symbolism to make this book usefully instructive in a literature class. Yet the story itself is less than 200 pages long--just right for a mature YA audience. Like  Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, this book is easily read but deceptively deep.

A short quotation from the beginning of pages of the book expresses a secondary theme of the book. In the first chapter Kuang says, Full freedom is another word for chaos and mob rule.
(©2009; A Tor Book, Tom Doherty Associates, LLC; New York, N.Y.; p. 18.) 

Throughout the book, there is a tension between freedom and government, with examples of different levels of freedom and different governments maintaining control. This tension is a strong theme, probably the primary theme.


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Valerie said...

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