3 out of 4 stars
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Asa’s Gift, by Isaac Green, is a science fiction western, integrating narrative elements of both genres while in the setting of a western. The book begins with a birth. Sadly, Daniel’s first child, Rachel, is born with a heart defect that will not allow her to live a full life. Daniel is insistent on using the full power of his wealth to find a solution to save her. Just before Daniel and Rachel’s departure to San Francisco, for additional medical assistance, Rachel as well as Daniel’s autistic cousin Asa go missing. Daniel realizes that he must find Asa and his daughter before any irreparable damage is done. Daniel follows Asa’s trail to Lagrima, the first town where his family and Asa lived after emigrating, a town that no longer exists.
This is the frame for the rest of the story, as the reader is taken back in time to Daniel and Asa’s childhood in Lagrima. For the tale that Green is weaving in Asa’s Gift, this framing device is extremely important to create the right setup for the eventual payoff at the end. However, the setup feels a bit long and could benefit from being shortened to get into the action more quickly.
As for the rest of the story, again I find that getting into the action takes a bit long, but the action that follows and the depth of the characters Green creates is worth the wait. I love the setup of the Caretaker and the aura of mystery and other-worldliness that he possesses. That is an extremely helpful hint for the reader as more and more supernatural elements creep into this western town. Additionally, Green does an excellent job utilizing all the citizens in the town, while keeping the main characters in the middle of the action. Though the story is a bit gruesome at times, it sets the scene for how dire the situation is and the importance of our heroes’ success.
While the action is exciting and well-paced, the story also has many touching and human scenes between characters. For instance, Javier, Daniel’s best friend, is more of a comic relief character for most of the novel. In the lead up to the climax, Javier shows a different side to his character when he faces an unexpected ally. Another scene involves Daniel and Asa connecting and communicating in a way they never could before. This was hugely important to the story, and a very positive spin on relationships with people with autism.
Speaking of autism, I have never seen an author use autism as heroically as its use here with Asa. Daniel needs Asa’s help; Asa can do what no one else can. What an empowering take on this developmental disorder. Well done.
In conclusion, Asa’s Gift is a book with developed characters, interesting action, and sincere personal moments. Because of the slow start and the few grammar errors, I am going to rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. If you like character driven science fiction, then this might be the book for you.
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