Daughters of a Coral Dawn - Katherine V. Forrest
I fear I can't agree with the enthusiasm of the person who recommended this to me. In discussing my reservations about the book, I will skip over certain purely scientific problems (such as egregious misunderstandings of basic biology), which do matter to a book that purports to be science fiction, but are really peripheral to its main concerns.

The book is concerned with the description of a utopia, and therefore, in order to have anything interesting to say, must have some notion of the social, economic, and ecological interactions that go into the makeup of a community. Yet there is very little sign that the author has thought much about the way that real people interact with each other. Her blithe passing over of all real problems is purely unbelievable! To take one example, in describing education, she says that teachers are not really needed in the perfect society -- "Instruction is easy, mostly electronic". And I'm saying to myself : No way, no how. Learning is complicated, children need interaction with teachers who work with their individual strengths and identify where they need additional help... But after all, the children in this story are all, to a girl, hyper-intelligent, focused, superhumanly perfect : And that is the indication of where "Daughters of a Coral Dawn" truly goes wrong, right from the first page.

The characters are not human. They are supposedly hybrids with an alien species. And they are all more intelligent, more socially attuned, more morally developed, etc., than any actual person could be. So when the author decided to people her utopia with these paragons, she instantly lost the possibility of discussing how humans, with all their flaws, could behave in new circumstances. And how is the reader supposed to identify with the characters, or imagine herself in the story? You might say that Materna sounds like a nice place to live, but how could you actually live there? It is not worthwhile discussing how such a society could work without being willing to engage with the complexities of human nature. And it is frankly wildly improbable that Laurel, the only supposedly purely human character, could fit in there. The author even squandered her one chance to create a character that the reader could relate to by making Laurel accept her new circumstances too easily.

I give the book some credit for sweetly romantic relationships, but even that is undermined by sketchy characterizations and pedestrian writing. I am not inclined to award consolation prizes for books with good intentions that fail as badly as this one does, so two stars is the most I can give it.