Friday, March 16, 2012

The Training of Socket Greeny (Tony Bertauski)

Overall: 3.8
  • Plot: 3.4/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Language: 3/5
  • Believability: 3.4/5
The Training of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski

A year has passed since the Paladin Nation was exposed to the public. Their mission is still to protect humanity from whatever may threaten them. Previously, it was the human duplications, but now that they've been extinguished their biggest challenge is dealing with the complications of public image. Socket Greeny, now 17 years old, has been a Paladin cadet for the past year and is nearing the final test. But that's the least of his problems. He's trying to live two lives: one as a superhero while hanging onto his normal life. While fearlessly dealing with his masochistic trainer, he's trying to salvage his deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend back home. But Socket's greatest challenge is to find his true enemy. He discovers that fear has many faces.
Genre: Science Fiction
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The story of Socket Greeny continues. In The Training of Socket Greeny, Socket works on developing his powers as a Paladin, while maintaining some sense of self. As his old life begins to slip away, however, he finds himself struggling to meet the needs of his loved ones and the demands of a race that sees human attachments as little more than hindrances. As he fights to preserve all that he holds dear, he uncovers a sinister plot that could very well end the world as we know it. Quite the plateful for the average seventeen-year-old. Fortunately, Socket Greeny soon shows that he is anything but average.

In the second installment of the Socket series, readers are promptly dropped back into the world of Paladins and servys and grimmets. For those who remember the original novel, the sequel makes it easy to fall back into the story without all of those pesky reminders that plague many a book from a series. For the uninitiated, however, the lack of explanation will likely prove frustrating; I highly recommend reading The Discovery of Socket Greeny first. It makes for a much more cohesive tale.

For the first two-thirds of the novel, my assessment was that this book is better than Discovery, in terms of connection to the protagonist and the accessibility of his internal and external conflicts. Bertauski showed that he has grown as a storyteller and improved upon his ability to make the reader care. With that said, the last third of the novel was something like a confused blur, or a stream-of-consciousness relaying of a psychedelic experience: limited in comprehensibility and kind of trippy. It brushed upon the metaphysical, but for a young adult novel, the questions of presence and understanding may be a bit much; it was certainly heavier than I'd anticipated. Incidentally, much of it reminds me of Buddhist concepts of worldview, but I digress.

Mind-bending descriptions aside, the novel is easy to read, as the language is accessible and quite adept at sticking to the story. While there is some profanity, I have little doubt that it is verbiage to which the average teenager has already been exposed. My only real gripe is that last few chapters of the novel felt sloppy compared to the rest, with confusion of words such as eminent/imminent and allude/elude, as well as the loss of some grammatical correctness and consistency in tense. Many may not care; unfortunately, I found that it detracted from what was shaping up to be an enjoyable experience.

When it comes down to it, The Training of Socket Greeny is about the maturation and development of a teenage world savior, rather than a basic rundown of the boy's schedule and a trite recitation of how it tired it made him feel. It is this aspect that allows young adult readers to connect with the work and invest in its characters. The superpowers and the heroism simply are, to make use of a terribly hackneyed cliche, icing on the cake.

(Review copy provided by the author)

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