Polymer by Sally Rogers-Davidson is a science fiction story which I would categorise as adventure. Apart from being in first person, it reminded me of pulpy SF adventure stories from way back when. Except with a female protagonist and more female issues than would ever have come up in those books.
The main story takes place within the pages of a long-lost journal written by Polly Meridian (aka Polymer). On the night of her graduation ceremony, her space station home is invaded by aliens. (Aliens, in this book, pretty much means “people not from the same place as me who might be human or could be blue aliens”.) She almost dies in the invasion but is “lucky” enough to be taken prisoner and enslaved instead.
Without spoiling any plot, a lot of things happen to her. Some of them are externally driven (like being taken prisoner) and some are on her own initiative. Either way, the book is full of action (although I thought there was a bit of a slump shortly after the invasion, it definitely picked up later on).
Unlike Spare Parts, the other Sally Rogers-Davidson book I’ve read, I wouldn’t call this one YA. Sometimes the writing felt like it could be and the main character is horribly naïve as isn’t uncommon in YA, but ultimately the book dealt with more grown-us issues. I wouldn’t stop a teenager reading it — it’s not very M rated (there’s sex and a bit of rape but it’s mostly off screen or not described in detail) — but I wouldn’t call it YA. Also, I think the main character is right on the cusp of the YA protagonist age range.
There were some problematic elements in the book. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I felt a bit uncomfortable by Polly’s shifting attitudes towards one of her captors. Given earlier events, it just didn’t sit well with me, even though I could understand it from her point of view.
I would recommend Polymer to anyone who enjoys a SF adventure story. I think Rogers-Davidson’s writing style improved in Spare Parts, but that’s understandable since Polymer was published four years earlier and I think it was her debut novel. If you enjoyed Spare Parts, give Polymer a go. It’s a very different setting, but there are some similarities in outlook (relatively cheery).
If you’re wondering about the different covers, the top is the recently released ebook cover (which is the version I have), the middle is the original paperback cover, now out of print, and the bottom is the re-released paperback. I think the bottom is my favourite.
3.5 / 5 stars