Guy Gonzalez's Reviews > How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
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Nov 11, 11

Read from November 05 to 10, 2011

I'm not one to abandon a book lightly, but around 150 pages in, I was ready to drop this one because I'd lost all interest in the story, and had spent the previous 50 pages snarking it in my head as I kept thinking, "This is Luke Skywalker's memoir if he'd failed to become a Jedi!" But I pushed through anyway, because several of my friends had praised the book, and I'm glad I did, not because it turned around towards the end and redeemed itself, because it didn't, and not because I found the lead character engaging, because he wasn't (more like Angsty Slacker in a Science Fictional Universe), and not because the underlying concept of the Science Fictional Universe was engaging, because it really wasn't, the psuedo-science feeling forced, tacked on, more mallet than lightsaber. I finished it mainly because there's something about Yu's style that was engaging; at times it really shines, when he's not being overly self-indulgent, like a teenager admiring his first erection in the mirror, a little too long. I understand why people liked, even loved, this book, because it's that kind of book, one that totally works for a certain group of people (who they are is hard to pin down, but they're probably a lot like Yu, literary geeks who love to see their genre passions taken seriously), and while I think I'm in that group of people, this book, the story Yu tried to tell, and the way he tried to tell it, simply didn't work for me.

And yes, I'm writing this review in a way that reflects how the book reads, or at least how I perceived it in my own minor universe. Your mileage may vary.

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Reading Progress

11/07/2011 page 95
40.0% "I don't hate it, and I'm not loving it, but there's something interesting beneath the pseudo-science and literary pretentiousness that's keeping me reading."
11/08/2011 page 143
60.0% "I keep picturing Luke Skywalker as I read this, and thinking, if he'd been a writer instead of a Jedi, he'd have written this book... That's not a compliment."

Comments (showing 1-4)

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message 4: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Love this line, Guy: "like a teenager admiring his first erection in the mirror,"

I think I might be in the group of people that would like this book. Will have to check it out.

message 3: by Guy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Guy Gonzalez It's a worthwhile read, I think, and I'm curious to see what you think of it.

message 2: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue I just took a quick peak. I like it so far, but I will probably not give it five stars when I finally review it because the content does not translate well to ebook format. It says it right in the text.

Publishers: if your content does not translate well to ebook format, don’t sell an ebook version of it. Or make a better translation. Or charge less. Even if I love your book, I will not give it five stars if I’m missing some of the content.

Funny thing is with this sort of post-modern, McSweeney’s-inspired, self-referential material, I wasn’t sure at first if the statement, “there is content at this location that is not currently supported for your Kindle device” wasn’t a joke that's worthy of SNL today but would be sadly unfunny in three years or less. I decided it wasn’t a joke, though, and hence even though I’m loving the book, I’m thinking it’s not going to get 5 stars.

But then I’m only at locations 132-40 and I really like it so far. So who knows.

Lorraine Hopping I had a very similar reaction—kept reading for reading's sake because of the engaging voice but not connecting emotionally to the story or the character in any lasting way. There's a germ of creative thinking in here that's appealing. Wondering if Yu will dive deeper next time.

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