Lisa Vegan's Reviews > Beggars in Spain

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
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's review
May 06, 11

bookshelves: fiction, novel, speculative-fiction, groups-buddies, reviewed, gr-a
Read from April 26 to May 06, 2011

I love how the author reveals in the preface that her motivation for writing this story and its characters was her envy of those who need less sleep than she does. Envy is a familiar feeling to me so I could identify with her and, in some respects, with some of the characters in this book.

This book has a fascinating premise, compellingly interesting characters, a riveting epic storyline, and (for the most part) creative future world building.

But, while they’re given adequate motivations, I still felt that too many characters were “too good” or “too bad” re their goals and behaviors and personalities. Some are a bit too much like caricatures. I did fall in love with a few characters and a few really scared me, and I like that the book had me caring as much as I did.

One of my favorite episodes appears on page 41: of course that’s how they’d rebel! I was highly amused.

I read this for a Goodreads’ online book club and I think there is a lot to discuss: about power, community, who belongs, who is us and who is them, about change (individual and societal) and re change and the lack of true stability or stagnation, and the whole letting the genie out of the bottle issue. A lot of the philosophies of the characters were certainly reminiscent of what’s going on in today’s society and people’s philosophical differences. What does society owe to its members? What type of society does one want in terms of interrelatedness, about genetic research for improvement re gender and appearance, and re screening for disease, and to what extent.

I know it’s a trilogy and for me this first book had a fairly satisfying ending, but Iwould have rather had an even better ending. I loved it but I’m not feeling compelled to rush out and read the next 2 books, but that is not atypical for me; I often thoroughly enjoy a book but then don’t continue on with its sequels/the rest of the series books.

I appreciated that reading this was thought provoking and I ended up being more sure of my beliefs and no less aware of my own feelings of envy under certain circumstances. As all good speculative fiction does, this says a lot about us, the way we are now, and there is a lot worthy of discussion between readers and introspective thinking.
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Reading Progress

04/26/2011 page 1
0.0% "I plan to start this later today. It looks great, really intriguing. It's for an online book club May discussion."
04/26/2011 page 1
0.0% "I love the background of why the author wanted to write this novel. She gives its background in the preface." 2 comments
04/27/2011 page 99
25.0% "I am loving this book!"
04/29/2011 page 162
41.0% "Fascinating premise and wonderful characters & story so far."
05/01/2011 page 192
48.0% "Fascinating book. Can't wait to see where it goes, but disappointed it's not a standalone, exactly, but the first in a trilogy. Very thought provoking. Interesting characters & story so far." 4 comments
05/02/2011 page 243
61.0% "Loving this. I'm so happy I have quite a bit of time tomorrow to read. Hoping to finish this in the new 2 or 3 days for a May online discussion."
05/03/2011 page 270
68.0% "I want to spend a lot of time tonight reading this; I'm loving it. I'm putting down my current non-fiction book right now. I hope to finish both books tomorrow, though it may be Thursday. I'm eager to discuss this book."
05/03/2011 page 294
74.0% "Love this book. Hope to finish it tomorrow, otherwise Thursday."
05/04/2011 page 315
79.0% "Aiming to finish this tomorrow but who knows at the rate I'm going. I wish it wasn't a trilogy. I can tell I'll be tempted to read the other two books too. I"m really enjoying this, and it's a fine discussion book."
05/05/2011 page 354
89.0% "I might stay up tonight to finish this. I wish when I finished it was done and that it wasn't a trilogy, but what an interesting story with interesting characters!"

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Sabrina (new) - added it

Sabrina How is it so far? I heard it is amazing.

Lisa Vegan Sabrina wrote: "How is it so far? I heard it is amazing."

I haven't started it yet. I put books on my currently reading shelf as soon as I have them at home from the library. I'm in the middle of another novel and will probably read one more book before I actually get to this one. I'm reading it for a group for May.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I liked them but as both individual volumes and a series, there's more fuzziness than I'd like at the levels of character, plot, and resolution.

Lisa Vegan Sho wrote: "I liked them but as both individual volumes and a series, there's more fuzziness than I'd like at the levels of character, plot, and resolution."

Hmm. In the next tow too? I was thinking that might change by book three. I hope to eventually read them, but at the rate I go, I'll have to see.

Sarah My copy didn't have a preface.

Lisa Vegan Sarah Pi wrote: "My copy didn't have a preface."

Oh, the preface was just wonderful. She wrote about how she'd spent years envying those who got by on less sleep than she did, how she's always needed so much. How she missed out on the fun part of slumber parties, etc. etc. etc. And then some on the history of the writing of the novella and then the novel/trilogy. But a lot about her envious feelings. So interesting! My copy was this edition. Perhaps you could find it at the library. I'd tell you more about what she said but my copy was back at the library weeks ago and my memory is a tad fuzzy.

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