I hated the title when I first saw it, but within a few pages of starting the book, I *really* hated it.
Why? A couple of reasons:
1- I find it to be a diminuitive - that is, a young woman who Impresses a dragon is not a 'girl'. The main character from the book, Fiona, just spent 3 years (Turns) as the Weyrwoman of a weyr - the leader, as it were. Just rubs me entirely the wrong way.
2- In the first 5 pages, Fiona refers to how she's grown up, and was a weyrwoman (in charge) several times, while the author specifically refers to her as a 'grown woman'. That makes referring to her as a 'girl' very jarring - and contradictory.
Haven't had a chance to write up a coherent review yet, but will at some point. There were a lot of reasons I gave it such a low score though. Basically, it had lots of dialogue, almost no description/imagery or even internal thoughts of the characters - it seemed very shallow.
I also had a hard time following who was talking and where they were from and who their dragon was. (The book definitely needed a Personae Dramatis
page.) They did a lot of hopping around from Weyr to Weyr and Hold and Crafthall, and it got really confusing. Making it worse, many characters were introduced and then killed off willy-nilly - sometimes within a page or two.
There were some continuity issues which jumped out at me and made me reread sections when I was like, "didn't they already mention Jeila's pregnancy 30 pages ago? why are they all surprised again?" He also constantly repeated himself - I think it was explained to the same few people no less than 5 times, just why Fiona liked to sleep in a group bed (non-sexual in this case.)
There was also way too much emphasis on just how 'amazing' Fiona is - Anne always made it understated, the reader knew what great people her characters were (Menolly, Lessa, etc.), but she wasn't repetitively SAYING it, like Todd does. Also, he really wore out the adage that great people collect great followers, or something of the sort, again, mentioning some version of it 4 or 5 times.
Then there's the whole sex thing.
I never really minded the little mentions of it in all of Anne's books, but I have to say that 50% of this book centers around the whole free love/swingers thing going on with Fiona et al.
I'm all in favor of 'love as thou wilt', but it squicked me when I realized just how young some of these characters were that were engaging in all of these different relationships - some as young as 12!, and Fiona herself in the book is only 16 ("almost 17" they keep saying, like that makes a tremendous difference...) And again, I've got no issue with gay or lesbian relationships, multiple partners, what-have-you, but the fact that some of the people were children, while others were much older was again, a very squicky thing for me. There was also just too damn much of it in the book. Seemed like almost every time Fiona went to bed there was a little side explanation of who was going to be in bed with her and why.
At the end of the day, Todd spent most all of his time telling the reader everything (often repetitively), rather than showing anything. I think the editor of this book would have done us all a favor if they had cut the page count by at least 100 pages or so - you could find it by just crossing out all the repeated stuff, I'm sure.
The ending is pretty much a cliffhanger, served up in the last 10 pages or so, which is another thing I really don't like. The only redeeming factor for the next book in the series is that it will supposedly be co-written by Anne again, so maybe she can save it from being crap.
Overall, I wouldn't say Todd's work is 'duplicative' of Anne's. I mean, yes, he's playing in her sandbox, but he's chosen a time period she never wrote in, so it's essentially all his, in terms of characters, etc. However, after reading all of his books so far, he is duplicating his same basic plot - huge plague, killing off many characters, imminent doom and destruction for everyone on the planet, needs someone to save the day, yadda yadda yadda. First it's the people have plague and are dying off, now it's the dragons. Can we give these people a break now, please?
OK, /vent over.
This is why I'm waiting a bit to post an actual review. The Pern series by Anne is one of my favorite series of all time, I've read them over and over, so I was so excited to see new ones coming out - but Todd is really not able to write as well as his mother, or at least, not what I want to read. Maybe he should write a Pern screenplay instead - his constant dialogue and destruction/hero/adventure sequencing would work really well in a movie.