Someone recently told me that people read books for the characters. I felt like debating that statement at first. People also like a good plot, descriptive passages, and other aspects of books. But if they don’t like the characters or they find the characters unbelievable, then the rest of the book doesn’t matter much, does it? Without characters, there’s no one to be moved by the plot, no one to interact with the scenery, no one to have witty dialogue. So yes, I guess he was right. People do read books for the characters.
And therein lies the problem with this trio of books by Anne McCaffrey—To Ride Pegasus, Pegasus in Flight, and The Rowan. Try to go deeper into the characters than a description of how the plot affected them, and there’s not much there.
To Ride Pegasus
In To Ride Pegasus, a psychic named Henry Darrow is injured in a car crash. While in the hospital, he is hooked up to an EEG which inadvertently records his brain patterns during a precognitive episode, which proves that psychic talent really exists. He creates a center to train people with various other paranormal abilities, and the rest of the story is about how those people learn to fit into society.
I have a soft spot in my heart for McCaffrey because I liked her Dragonrider books. To Ride Pegasus is a prequel to another series which I hoped to like as much. The idea had promise, but the story is told in a dry, straight-forward manner more suited to a textbook. It is hard to become emotionally involved with the story, and the minimal characterization is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. As a teenager, I found this book enjoyable. As an adult, I know it’s time to let it go.
Pegasus in Flight
Pegasus in Flight continues the story of the paranormal center. The cast has changed but the problems have not. Talents, as they call the paranormally gifted, are still mistrusted and mistreated. But a new Talent has been discovered whose power reaches all the way to the stars, and he may change the destiny of mankind.
This one suffers from many of the same problems as To Ride Pegasus. It is arguably better, but not enough to save it from the Chopping Block.
The paranormal center expanded as mankind colonized other planets. The expansion could not have happened without the Talents, and they are now in control. The Rowan is one of the strongest Talents ever to be born, but she is crippled by agoraphobia until a stranger helps her defeat her fear.
On the bright side, The Rowan does not read like a textbook. The Rowan is a likable character. However, the character with whom she becomes involved romantically is a cardboard cutout, and not an interesting one. The whole affair and the events surrounding it seem silly to me. I’m afraid this book will be lost in the GLP, too.
McCaffrey wrote another book that fits between Pegasus in Flight and The Rowan. I think I might like to read it, just to fill in the gaps in the story for my own satisfaction, but I won’t go out of my way to get it. Maybe I’ll find a copy at a libary book sale someday.