4 out of 4 stars
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At first glance, a sci-fi book about a "first adult" had me expecting some alternate universe where only one person has ever survived becoming 18, so I was very pleasantly surprised by the actual concept in First Adult by David Alomes. After some intriguing world-building, the First Adult is introduced. Adults are beings with amazing powers that are in charge of their worlds, and the First Adult, Ikara, is on a mission to find beings on other planets worthy of becoming Adults. When they arrive at Earth, he finds a lawyer named Samuel who he decides to train to save humanity. Samuel is the first new potential Adult found in over 100 years, so the event is even more spectacular.
Don't expect a crazy battle where powers are mysteriously awakened, the revelation that the spoon doesn't exist or a training regimen that could be set to Eye of the Tiger. Ikara'a training of Samuel is almost entirely done via mind transfer - an ability that allows an Adult to pass and/or receive information in such a way that the information is never doubted, and even experienced as if it happened to them.
The vast majority of this information is the story of Doneel, who was born in a world torn apart by war. On one side is Nu - a technologically advanced nation run by a massive computer. On the other side is the Land of the Righteous, who are all disfigured from radiation and whose lives are dedicated entirely to destroying Nu. The two sides have been at war for a thousand years with no end in sight. Doneel is the son of a Righteous man and Nu woman who both saw the errors of their nations, met and fell in love in the 'Tweenlands - an area between the two nations that is allied to neither. As Doneel grows up he discovers remarkable powers, and decides that it's up to him to create peace on his planet. This is exactly what every Adult is charged with today - helping their "children" "grow up" and become a peaceful race that works in harmony, and this is what Samuel is charged to do on Earth if he can survive his training.
While the book doesn't have much action (a major surprise in sci-fi!), this was an excellent book. The tale of Doneel becoming the original First Adult is really entertaining and full of surprises. The way it's told to Samuel really helps with feeling the weight of not only wondering what will happen with Doneel, but also with how it's even possible to create peace on Earth. While it's not defeating an evil wizard or some world-ending plot, creating peace is still a massive undertaking, perhaps even a greater one! There's also a side-plot that could have some major potential in the future of the series.
On that note, it's worth mentioning that this is book one in the Adult Trilogy. The book has a very solid ending of its own, which is a major requirement for a series in my opinion, but it also has at least three major threads that'll be very interesting in the future of the trilogy.
The book is very solidly edited and while it's very possible there were a couple, I was so absorbed in the plot that I didn't notice a single grammatical error. If I had to say something negative about the book, it's that I wish Samuel had a bit more personality. Doneel, his parents and the rest of the cast are rather strong, but Samuel doesn't really get much time in the book to shine with his character and feels much like his trainer Ikara. With more time on his own in a sequel, however, I have no doubt Samuel will grow into his own.
As always, the best metric for whether a book in a series is good or not is whether I want to read more of it. With First Adult, the answer is definitely yes. The book is definitely worthy of 4 out of 4 stars and I recommend it to anyone who loves sci-fi, the concept of spreading peace and those who enjoy a twisty story. For those who want a lot of action, however, this probably won't be enough to sate your appetite.
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