Because of YA titles like "The Giver" and "The Hunger Games" dystopic fiction is experiencing its days of wine and roses. Which of course, is ironic,...moreBecause of YA titles like "The Giver" and "The Hunger Games" dystopic fiction is experiencing its days of wine and roses. Which of course, is ironic, when you consider what dystopic fiction is about: The world has seen better days. Some people have equated The Dog Stars with McCarthy's "The Road" which angers me. The only similarities have to do with the desperate need of the people and the violence that starving, fearful people resort to. Other than that, it is a difference between hope and despair.
Without giving away any elements of the plot, let's just say that this book chronicles the existence of two men who have survived a worldwide catastrophe. But in the midst of the book, we see love lost and found (at many levels), fear and doubt becoming peace and security, appreciation for the simpler things in life and an amazing focus on Ancient asian poetry. These are not elements you will find in other dystopic fiction with the possible exception of Margaret Atwood.
The language is as raw as it needs to be. The violence is throughout the book, but mostly subdued. Real love takes center stage as do all of the other decisions that humans make. The ending is worth the book.(less)
This is not written like other tell-all kidnapping victim books. Many of them revel in the gory details of what their captors did to them. The idea be...moreThis is not written like other tell-all kidnapping victim books. Many of them revel in the gory details of what their captors did to them. The idea behind this--at least in psychoanalytical circles--is that this become catharsis for the victim to fully describe the abuse. As a counselor, I don't think that is ever true. Post-traumatic stress is not reduced by admitting how horrible the abuse became. It is reduced by understanding what the abuse means, and what it doesn't. It is clear Ms. Smart has done this. She deliberately omits details of her constant rapes and worse sexual events of her incarceration. She deliberately focuses on what she was thinking rather than trying to guess what motivated her captors. Others have commented that she was much more articulate on radio and television than in this book. I disagree. I feel she is trying to make a statement in this book and it is this: I have no pity or compassion on my captors, but instead I have focused on how grateful I am for God's help through the ordeal. That doesn't make for tittilating reading, but it makes it a healthy book nonetheless.(less)
Jo Walton takes all of her childhood settings, along with those of her family, and blends them into a dark and magical world of almost reality. This i...moreJo Walton takes all of her childhood settings, along with those of her family, and blends them into a dark and magical world of almost reality. This is a believable story, layered with so many brill themes: Teen angst, angels and fairies, broken families, grief, twin psychology, sci-fi fanaticism, English and Welsh cultures, British boarding school life and the horrors of English food. And with all of these themes, she blends them so well. IMO, the final scene, the most magical scene, does not jump off the page into unreality, as some have suggested. Walton leads into it so gradually that one is almost lead to believe that it is just an extension of everything else that has already happened. And, instead of focusing in a tight shot on her mother there in the every-gorging forest, she leaves her to fend for herself. Fitting.
I adored the part where the three most important new men in her life appear together to welcome her back into the real world. In some ways, they are like the heroes of the force that appear to Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars or the throngs that welcome back Frodo and Sam to Gondor.
I also love her love of Tolkien and Zelazny. I read LOTR ten times before high school was done and I have the same pang of regret that the heroine has every time I finished it. (less)
I have liked Scalzi's writing for several years. But I might have enjoyed this book the best. The world-building is not as good as Old Man's War and t...moreI have liked Scalzi's writing for several years. But I might have enjoyed this book the best. The world-building is not as good as Old Man's War and the plot not as enticing as Ghost Brigades or Human Division. This just happens to be the most fun of all his books. His experience as a screenwriter comes through on every page. Brilliant dialogue and surprise endings even in the middle.(less)
A simple review. The first book was very good. It didn't have any depth to the characterizations, but this is a plot book and I didn't expect any. The...moreA simple review. The first book was very good. It didn't have any depth to the characterizations, but this is a plot book and I didn't expect any. The second book the action drags as the author tries to add depth to her characters. It doesn't work. Stick to plot-driven books or learn how to give characters more substance. Roth is a good writer at crafting dystopic worlds. But she is not adept at other aspects of writing, such as dialogue and foreshadowing.(less)