After my last review I went looking through the towering to-be-read stack for something a little less weighty for my next project. And my eye landed on Colony Fleet, a paperback that my mother had found somewhere and mailed to me a few weeks ago.
She sent it because she remembered (bless you!) that I've recommended several books by Matthews in the past. In fact Matthews' debut novel An Exchange of Hostages is one of my favorite books: it's a fascinating premise, a completely immersive world, a searing observation of psychosis in action and best of all (from my point of view anyway) has sequels. Joy!
Colony Fleet is from that same early time period in the timeline of Matthews' works, having been written in 2000. (An Exchange of Hostages came out in 1997, and she produced two other books in that series in between.) And the prose shows it: Colony Fleet maintains the same fast pacing and light-weight tone that is the trademark of her first half-dozen novels--and it's something she hasn't really managed in the last few years.
As with her first series (and with the singleton Avalanche Soldier for that matter), Matthews seems to be not so much writing a book as exploring a character who undergoes a wrenching personality change; the rest of the book is merely a (well selected) backdrop for that particular drama. And if Colony Fleet fails to evoke the same emotional impact as An Exchange of Hostages, it's still a worthwhile story with respectable characterization and solid world-building.