August 19th, 2012


Book Review: Rite of Passage, by Alexei Panshin

A classic SF coming-of-age tale written by Heinlein's nemesis.

Rite of Passage

Pocket Books, 1968, 239 pages

In 2198, 150 years after the desperate wars that destroyed an overpopulated Earth, Man lives precariously on 100 hastily-established colony worlds and in the 7 giant Ships that once ferried men to the stars. Mia Havero's Ship is a small closed society. It tests its children by casting them out to live or die in a month of Trial in the hostile wilds of a colony world. Mia Havero's Trial is fast approaching, and in the meantime she must learn not only the skills that will keep her alive, but the deeper courage to face herself and her world.

Published originally in 1968, Alexei Panshin's Nebula Award-winning classic has lost none of its relevance, with its keen exploration of societal stagnation and the resilience of youth.

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Verdict: Classic science fiction upholding the best traditions of the genre and with a protagonist who's more human and relatable and positive than most of what the YA genre offers today, Rite of Passage is spaceships-and-colonies sci-fi, bildungsroman, teen adventure, and moral philosophizing, all in a book that should appeal alike to those who love and to those who hate Robert A. Heinlein. It should also appeal to any YA or adult SF fan, even if you've never read Heinlein.

My complete list of book reviews.