Willful Child by Steven Erikson: Review

Right … Where on earth do I start with this.
Ok, here goes.
Despite being warned not to start here with regards to Steven Erikson’s body of work, I liken myself to one of those characters who are told not to push a red button and then end up pushing it to see what happens. This book for me was the red button I shouldnt have pushed. But, my friends, I did.
But thats on me. Sometimes you have to make errors to learn from them.

I went into this book with a completely open mind. This homage/spoof to Star Trek and other SciFi films/tv shows, should have ticked all the boxes for me. It really didnt, and then some.

The book is supposed to represent the many adventures of Captain Hadrian Sawback of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child, but to be honest half the time I was really confused as to what was going on within the story, although I use the term “story” loosely. It was messy and all over the place. One second there is killer kittens and then something involving a large chicken, amongst other things. I get this is to represent the tv series in some ways. Each week Kirk would get himself in all sorts of trouble and it would all be ok as he would be back with his faithful crew next week. I felt it really didnt work in Wilfull Child.

I cant really talk about the characters (except for one, which I will get to) as I felt that all the characters were rather vapid and I really didnt care about any of them. They seemed to always try and challenge the chain of command because of a megalomaniac for a captain. Then we come on to the captain himself.
Wow, where do I even start with the likes of Captain Hadrian Alan Sawback?
Well, for starters he is a bloody idiot who constantly objectifies his subordinates of the opposite sex. Now, Im all for humour and spoof and I would like to consider myself not easily offended. But I really found this book so derogatory and offensive toward women, it actually stressed me out reading it, and I have never felt like that before. Ever.
But really the jokes about assualt/rape were really just vile. Even the overall constant jokes of Captian Sawback being somewhat a sex addict was tiresome from the beginning.
I reached the end and I said to my wife, “I have to put this in another room, as I really dont want to look at it anymore.” After this I felt really drained and actually quite crap in myself, I think that this was because I pushed myself to finish this book even though I would have rather done something else and perhaps it because I was mentally searching for that would redeem this one. Please dont think Im saying, “Read this and it will mess you up.” because Im not saying that Im just trying to relay how it made me feel.
I may sound like Im running this book into the ground and that ostensibly is the truth to a certain degree, but I, myself could find nothing that I liked in it whatsoever. So Im sorry for being frightfully negative. I suppose that summed up this book was just not for me. Im going to leave it at that because I really hate being negative but I also dislike being dishonest. So Im sorry if my view differs from others but Wilfull Child is not a book I could recommend, to do so would be against my truth.

Wilfull Child is out on the 6th November via Bantam Books UK and the 4th of Nov Tor/Forge US/Can

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8 thoughts on “Willful Child by Steven Erikson: Review

  1. I agree with a lot of points in your review, but I also felt the complete opposite. I really enjoyed this book. I had a feeling it wasn’t going to work for everyone though, because humor is so subjective and some of the satire is so over the top, but I felt for a “spoof” book that took the Star Trek original series and dialed everything — including Kirk’s propensity for womanizing — to 11, it was pretty well done and hilarious. I’m a big fan of TOS and I thought this homage/parody was pretty entertaining, but I know how you feel. I really couldn’t take it seriously, which was probably why I was able to enjoy it.

    • I too am a fan of all things Trek and I understood that it was never meant to be serious. It just didnt work for me at all. I had a feeling this would be a divisive book and differing opinions are what makes the world go round. Im glad yourself and other people have enjoyed it and I hope they enjoy the planned sequels too.

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