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on Feb. 17, 2012 :
Equality is everything in First Community, where all of the children are born on the same day and raised together into adulthood. Everyone is trained in the job they are suitable for, and everyone works for the good of the Community. But Yadh is different, and where uniformity is king, differences are not to be tolerated.
Even though she bears some resemblance to the forebears of First Community, Yadh is considered a throwback, an unwelcome genetic aberration. With her easily damaged pale skin and unruly tangles of wavy red hair, she is both ugly and useless.
Unable to work out of doors, she’s forced to endure taunting from her crib mates and sneers from the adults in First Community as she washes endless piles of dishes, the only task for which she is determined to be fit. “Yadh spoils the milk,” they say, “Yadh makes the babies cry.” Worst of all, they tell her to “Go hunt dragon eggs.” Everyone knows that dragons are mythical, so the taunt is a thinly veiled threat of banishment; First Community would rather Yadh die alone in the desert than allow her presence to continue to pollute its settlement. Only Teaching Mother Rina is able to see beyond Yadh’s physical appearance and recognize her as someone with true potential, but her opinion carries little weight among the rest of the settlers.
When the threat of banishment becomes real, Yadh embraces it as an opportunity to find her own way in the world. She has learned to adapt to her status as an unwelcome outsider, and armed with the knowledge of her planet that Teaching Mother has provided, Yadh determines to leave First Community on her own terms. Her wilderness skills, practiced in secret far away from the eyes of her Community, are indispensable now that the time has come for her to find her own destiny.
Although she doesn’t yet know it, Yadh is being guided by a force that cherishes her for her uniqueness, and while First Community may have rejected her, others of her kind are willing to welcome her as one of their own – if that’s what she chooses.
A unique young adult novella with science fiction and fantasy leanings, Yadh, the Ugly encourages readers to define their own identities and see their differences as strengths, not weaknesses. Life on a foreign world, eugenics, magical beasts, and an engagingly plucky heroine make this novella a delicious treat. I hope we will hear more of Yadh’s adventures in the future.
(reviewed the day of purchase)