With football season underway, I decided it was the best time to listen to Scott Sigler’s podiobook “The Rookie.” As a sci-fi fan, I couldn’t resist the premise: futuristic, inter-galactic football teams (comprised of alien and human players) battle, sometimes to the death, in their pursuit of triumph. As an only casual spectator of the present-day sport, I worried that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the action. (I also worried that it would be more sports-focused than my love of adventure could go along with.) My faith in Sigler was well-rewarded however. There is a lot of football going on (as there should be), but there’s also conspiracy, adventure, character drama and some well-done world/species creation too. I wouldn’t have expected that sports and science fiction could come together so well and yet, in “The Rookie” they merge into a fast-paced plot that clips along without pause.
The story follows rookie quarterback Quentin Barnes as he leaves his semi-sheltered life playing for an all-human team in the Purist Nation. With dreams of quarterbacking for a Tier One team, he has to overcome his prejudices against alien races when he’s picked up by the Ionath Krakens. Besides learning to lead his team (a key not only to success, but to survival) he also has to deal with the criminal element of the Galactic Football League as villains bent on game-fixing emerge to threaten him and his teammates.
“The Rookie,” besides being an engaging adventure, is a coming-of-age story. More than that, it’s a story about overcoming racism. While the podiobook (with mature language and Sigler’s trademark “lots and LOTS of violence”) is aimed at adult audiences, the book version is written for young adults. Despite being a huge supporter of classics, I’d wager that “The Rookie” would go a lot farther in teaching adolecent readers about racism than Huck Finn. (With all due respect to Mark Twain, historic examples linked to still-simmering angst can sometimes get lost in the awkward, politically-correct shuffle.) Sigler sneaks some very poignant, human lessons into the mayhem. Themes of courage and decency are woven in so seamlessly that the audience won’t feel they’re being preached to (because, well, they’re not).
Whether you’re an avid podiobook fan (of any genre) or wondering what great book you could put on your holiday shopping list for sports or sci-fi fans, I’m recommending “The Rookie.” You can pick up the audio verison at Sigler’s website or download it at iTunes. I’m so sure you’d like it that I’m holding a free drawing for a kindle edition of the YA version. Just post a comment to this blog to enter. The drawing will be November 1. (Winner will recieve the Amazon kindle edition; you don’t need to own a kindle to win, but you will need the free kindle app on your computer to download it. Not too savvy with electronic books? Not to worry, my next blog will be a beginner’s guide to accessing e-books – don’t hesitate, post a comment and get your name into the hat… I mean, helmet!)