Pretty good. The semi-post-apocalyptic future is a more and more common trope these days (not to mention more and more plausible), but this book handl...morePretty good. The semi-post-apocalyptic future is a more and more common trope these days (not to mention more and more plausible), but this book handles it well. And for a book narrated by a teenage girl who makes up a religion, it is surprisingly not (very) preachy and there is a minimum of convenient coincidences. You know she's going to have to leave her neighborhood at some point, but about half the book takes place in the neighborhood, which I think was a good move. A lesser writer would probably put her on the road sooner, but that would have made the journey mean less. On the other hand, the book ends without much being resolved. It feels more like a prelude than a complete book, but it's at least intrigued me enough to read the next one in the series at some point.
I also didn't get the character of Bankole -- the way he acted and the way other characters reacted to him didn't make much sense to me, in a book that was generally careful to provide complex, realistic motivations for people's actions. But maybe he was supposed to be a cipher?(less)
Great premise, pretty good execution. The concept lends itself to twisty endings, and the rhythm of this gets a bit predictable after a while. A few o...moreGreat premise, pretty good execution. The concept lends itself to twisty endings, and the rhythm of this gets a bit predictable after a while. A few of the stories are slight or amateurish, but they're over quickly. I have to single out David Malki's two stories ("Cancer" and "Cocaine and Painkillers") for being really engrossing character studies.(less)
Fantastic, in every sense of the word! Many of the stories reminded me of Calvino or Borges, but less... cuddly. A vaguely nightmarish quality lines C...moreFantastic, in every sense of the word! Many of the stories reminded me of Calvino or Borges, but less... cuddly. A vaguely nightmarish quality lines Chateaureynaud's dreamscapes, though they never veer into outright horror. He draws on some familiar myths and fairy tales, but the most satisfying stories seem to have no precedent.
My only complaint about this book is the awful cover, featuring an unflattering photo of the scowling author looking like Vonnegut's evil twin.(less)
This is a deeply problematic book. I didn't think it was nearly as unreadable as some people say, and in fact was fairly entertained by it before I ha...moreThis is a deeply problematic book. I didn't think it was nearly as unreadable as some people say, and in fact was fairly entertained by it before I had to return it to the library (which is the real reason I didn't finish it, I swear).
Early on there's a footnote along the lines of "you guys I was really crappy at math in high school and didn't really like it except for this one teacher so I'm basically just going to be regurgitating what he said, okay?" This was an early warning sign, and the nagging feeling only grows stronger as the book goes on -- DFW doesn't really know what he's talking about. (The reviews I've read by mathematicians seem to confirm this.)
The book is poorly organized, or rather not organized, which certainly conveys DFW's rollicking enthusiasm for the subject, but it's still very frustrating when you want to refer back to something. There's all these "optional" footnotes and digressions, but I found it impossible to grasp what he was saying without these "optional" bits, so I read them all. There's this big looming question of who the book is for... as pop science it's too dense and complicated for a layperson with no background on the subject, yet it cuts too many corners to satisfy anyone who actually knows the subject.
For pseudo-intellectuals and weekend philosophers this book is probably perfect -- there's lots of entertaining anecdotes about historical figures in mathematics, and a few "this will blow your MIND" moments you can regale people with at parties. Also, since the book is harder to read than it needs to be, people will be impressed that you read it. Voila!(less)