Science fiction books have never topped my list. I think I have found a series that could turn that around.
GROND: The Raven High, book one in a series, is a futuristic coming-of-age story featuring a heroine like no other. Olga Voronov, Raven as she is known, is one of The Changed and living and thriving on her own alongside her android nanny and trainer, Arina Rodionovna, on High House Eight. Olga, a mere preteen, possesses skills and exceptionalities rendering her an integral part of the regeneration of Earth’s failing status as an inhabited planet. Yuri Hamaganov’s main character endures rigorous training simulations in a technologically superior time and is forced to make life-altering decisions in order to save herself.
I am, admittedly, not a science fiction fan. Yuri Hamaganov’s, GROND: The Raven High: (GROND Series Book 1) may have changed my mind. Book 1 of what promises to be an engaging series centered around Olga Voronov is set in the 2080s when Olga, the Raven, begins her journey as one of The Changed and, almost unknowingly, sets out to save the Earth. I am instantly intrigued when an author is able to vividly describe a main character. Hamaganov does just that on the first page as Olga is portrayed with both innocence and technological savvy. She may be “a chestnut-haired girl of around six in a light summer dress,” but she is processing information and making the calculations and decisions of a highly-developed computer. This combination is more than enough to draw the reader into the storyline from chapter one.
Olga lives alone on High House Eight with an amazingly capable android, Arina Rodionovna, who serves as her nanny, her trainer in all things technical, and her only parent. Arina’s emotionless love and devotion for Olga is touching but not tear-jerking. Her dedication to Olga’s success is strong and does not go unappreciated by the reader. High House Eight, a facility described in great detail throughout the book, is one of my favorite aspects of this book. The entire concept of the eight Houses orbiting the Earth at high rates intrigues me. Olga witnesses “sunrises and sunsets fifteen times in twenty-four hours.” By dropping such lines, Hamaganov succeeds in revealing perfectly-timed “aha” moments that paint a clear picture of Olga’s world.
The idea of the proverbial talking head is not lost on Hamaganov. The author manages to effectively incorporate a character, Mikhail Petrov, as a face on a screen. He is Olga’s “curator” and her contact with Earth. Petrov is an essential character and his appearances throughout the story are well-timed and further lend human emotions to the story though he, like Olga, is one of The Changed.
A couple themes seem to permeate the storyline. GROND: The Raven High, as it continues from book to book, will carry a theme of unabashed love for one’s roots if the author stays true to book one. Olga stops at nothing to save what she knows of her life, and that is a theme with which even the most hardcore science fiction opponent can relate. As the chapters progress with an excellent mix of action and reveals of backstories, another theme is evident. Humans have, sadly, destroyed Earth. Olga, placed with android Adrina and raised in space, is a crucial factor in Earth’s regeneration. Time and subsequent books will tell if she is successful. Hamaganov succeeds in ending Book 1 with an action sequence that leads nicely into a hook for GROND II: The Blitzkrieg.
On a scale of 1-5, I am giving The Raven High a solid 4. I would have found it helpful to see a glossary of the author’s own specific technology terms used throughout the book.