Katie's Reviews > Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
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's review
Aug 28, 12

bookshelves: lifereading, speculativefiction
Read in August, 2012

A reread from long ago -- Three or four people I passed while reading this on the way to work were compelled to say, "Oh that is such a good book!" which is always a good sign. It does present an important perspective on the way cultures all over the world place themselves in the universe, and it's told in that hungry sort of way that makes you think the world could easily be different -- or be made different. However, just like many rereads from high school, it proves flimsy and inconsistent when you actually poke at it. Where I once found the main character's open-mindedness, acceptance of new information, and eagerness to learn compelling, watching him utterly fail to question some pretty egregious self-contradictory statements from the teacher recast him in my mind as a lifeless puppet who is only there to laud and showcase the author's point of view. After that point I started to see opportunity after opportunity for him to ask good questions or develop as a character; few are taken; I was disappointed.

Required reading for adolescents. Full credit for igniting the sparks of revolution. Double points for wishing you could smack the main character.

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Chris i read this when i was 19 or 20 and was just on the cusp of finding it enlightening and being skeptical of its polemic nature. i wonder what i would think upon reread.

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