March 7, 2017
Mansions of Karma, by Ruth White
Twelve children tragically left alone to run the world – their world being a pristine Goldilocks planet far, far from Earth. Without guidance, without technology, without a blueprint, they grow into teens living by their wits, and wait for a promised starship to rescue them. Lily, the oldest in the group, cooks meals and performs other parental duties, thus becoming something of a mother figure to the younger ones. Their greatest comfort is a spiritual vision – the legendary Mansions of Karma – which appears in the sky periodically to remind them they are not alone, but forever a part of the great, universal life force. They also have a gift left to them by their parents – the memory of the disintegration of their home planet, Earth. Will they allow the same fate to befall this new Eden?
At its core, Mansions of Karma is a YA sci-fi story with slight elements of romance. It’s suitable for all ages, and there isn’t any strong peril to scare younger readers. The story is engaging so that you want to keep reading to see how it all pans out. There are a few necessary time jumps and they’re handled nicely.
The story is pretty straightforward: A colony on a distant planet suffers a catastrophic illness that kills all the adults. The titular eleven-year-old Lily is the oldest, and she has to keep the younger children and herself alive long enough for help to arrive … if it arrives at all.
The story has an ending that works. It’s not a cliffhanger, but a few plot points are left unanswered. I didn’t feel cheated with the ending, and I’m glad that there’s a sequel coming, although even without a sequel, this self-contained story can easily be read in a single evening. A four-star read. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read it for free, and the 99-cent price is worth it.
Ruth White was born in the Appalachian hills of Virginia. She lived there until she graduated from high school and went away to college. Though she left the hills, they never left her. Ruth started writing at a very young age. She remembers trying to write stories before she was even able to put long sentences together. Eventually Ruth became a teacher and then a school librarian. Working in the public schools among adolescents fueled her desire to write. When not writing, Ruth likes to walk in the park with her golden retriever, listen to books on tape, and watch movies. Away from home, She likes to visit schools and talk to young people about books and writing. Her daughter usually travels with her, and they have a great time together.