a review by Rebecca Muir
The Diamond Deep is the finale to the two part story begun in The Creative Fire. The old and failing spaceship, Creative Fire, arrives back in its home system and docks at the space station Diamond Deep.
Ruby Martin and Joel North had fought for a united crew to arrive back home, one where every member is recognised. However, life back home is very different to what they expected.
Ruby and Joel must find a way to make sure their crew survive and adapt to their new situation. They need to make allies fast as it appears they already have enemies. Once again, Ruby must fight for those she loves. She quickly finds new battles to fight as well, as her outsider’s eyes allow her to see the injustices of the society she has come to. Her talent as a singer and songwriter, coupled with her passion and courage, thrust her into the arena once again.
In some regards, this book felt like more of the same. As in The Creative Fire, the story is about Ruby singing her way to revolution. The story is bigger than that, though – the challenges of leadership and providing for her people and the portrayal of the world of the space station are part of the bigger scope of this book. If you look at it as the second part of the same story, the repetition in the story is understandable.
The book has a lot of tension and drama which kept me reading. The chapters are quite short and jumped between characters a lot; I found myself wanting to squeeze in just one more section to find out what happened next to a particular character. The drama built up towards the end then finished on a bittersweet note which I couldn’t decide if I liked or not. I don’t think I would say I disliked it.
I think the most important aspect of this book was the exploration of the responsibility a society has to its poor. Ruby is convinced that everyone in an affluent society has the right to the basics of life. She cannot conceive of a reason to deny those basics to those who, for whatever reason, are unable to provide them for themselves. She is troubled by the extremes of wealth and poverty she finds on the space station. Reflecting on this, I think the book has a lot to say to Western countries where there are similar extremes to be found. I couldn’t help wondering what Ruby would find to sing about in our culture.
On the negative side, I did not think the characters were explored very well in this book. For the most part, Brenda Cooper seems to have relied on the work she did in The Creative Fire. The new characters from the space station just didn’t feel as well-drawn to me. They were rushed into and through the story and were never really developed very well. There are some notable exceptions, however, such as the young man Haric and the human/machine hybrid Aleesi.
You should read The Creative Fire before you read The Diamond Deep. If you enjoyed The Creative Fire, you will probably enjoy this book too. It is worth a read, but I thought The Creative Fire was better.