lana's Reviews > Serena

Serena by Ron Rash
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Mar 16, 12


I'd give this two and a half stars if I could, I think.

Serena is the wife of a logger and would-be timber baron. While they seem perfectly matched to each other in the beginning, Serena's ambition knows no bounds and ultimately her blood runs colder than that of her husband. She will stop at nothing, and while initially her intelligence and strength are admirable qualities for me, she rapidly becomes a frightening and grotesque character. Between the horse, the eagle, her penchant for cold, her knowledge and lack of past- ultimately Serena seems inhuman, which I suppose is the point.

Clearly the author can write, as there are nods to Shakespeare as well as greek tragedy here. Both Pemberton and Serena are relatively well-fleshed out as characters, though everyone else serves as prop- both in the narrative and in Serena's plans. The landscape is lushly described, though here the detail is seen through the lens both of profit-making (the investors mentally catalog the woods and metals, the animals one must hunt and those one must avoid) and preservation (as the political backdrop of the novel is the government's creation of national parks). The beautiful landscape is countered by constant death, equally graphic.

Overall the plot is too straightforward, too predictable, and everything comes to its logical conclusion. None of the characters are multi-faceted, everyone merely plays their role. The loggers are there to provide side commentary, the peanut gallery or greek chorus as it were.
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