A Beautiful Friendship
by David Weber
Hardcover: 361 pages
Released: January 1, 2011
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Stephanie Harrington always expected to be a forest ranger on her homeworld of Meyerdahl . . . until her parents relocated to the frontier planet of Sphinx in the far distant Star Kingdom of Manticore. Sphinx is a virgin wilderness full of new species of every sort, just waiting to be discovered. But it's also far more dangerous, and Stephanie’s explorations come to a halt when her busy parents ask her to promise not to explore without adult supervision.
The native population has been keeping a watch on the human newcomers to their planet. Climbs Quickly, a treecat with an craving for human celery, comes face-to-face with Stephanie after she sets out to discover who or what has been raiding the greenhouses for celery. An instant bond is created between the telepathic treecat and the remarkable young human--one that has them willing to risk their lives to save each other.
A Beautiful Friendship is a young adult science fiction adventure novel. I liked David Weber's early novels in his Honor Harrington series. His later novels were very slow paced with most of the action happening "off screen," so I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel. While I'm pleased that this novel didn't suffer from the same problems, the second half was a bit more slow-paced than I think most young adults would tolerate. The book also felt a little disjointed. Weber basically took previously published short stories from the "Worlds of Honor" collection and filled them out a little for this novel. So if you've read those stories, the most exciting events in this novel won't come as much of a surprise.
The characters were engaging and had realistic dilemmas to deal with--how to deal with prejudice, greed, etc. The world-building was excellent without slowing the pacing as much as in some of his adult novels. The suspense was created mainly by physical danger to Stephanie and Climbs Quickly, but also from some relationship tensions between Stephanie and those she felt might be a threat to the treecats.
Obviously, there were "evolved, alien species" in this story. There was no sex. There was a minor amount of explicit bad language. Overall, I'd say that this book would most appeal to fans of Honor Harrington, but they're also the ones who probably have already read the short stories that make up the backbone of this novel. However, I'm looking forward to future novels in this series.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.