Chad's Reviews > The Years of Rice and Salt

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
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's review
Sep 20, 2009

did not like it

One of the few books I couldn't force myself to finish. I usually enjoy alternate histories and post-apocalpyse fiction, so I thought I would enjoy this,

First, there didn't seem to be any overarching storyline. Characters are introduced, some contrived/random events happen, some dialog occurs, then they die. A brief interlude where the characters meet in some sort of afterlife happens, then another story starts.

I spent most of the next "story" trying to figure out who the charcters were supposed to represent as reincarnations of the first story as well as what alternate time/culture was supposedly being potrayed, then the charcters would die and have another meaningless conversation in the afterlife again.

The points of view were extreamly narrow, making it difficult to infer the historical significance of what changes had occured, if any. I was unable to establish an emotional rapport with the "characters" who simply seemed to be enduring whatever was happening to them and waiting to die and get reincarnated again. Frankly, it seemed to be a collection of random short stories set in generically eastern historical settings with the "plague kills off whitey"/reincarnation trope invented to bring them together in one collection.

I grew exhausted trying to figure out what was happening to who and realized I didn't really give a shit anyway. Perhaps there is some payoff to finishing the thing, but it didn't really seem to be going anywhere and not worth the slog. None of the individual vinettes I managed to get through really engaged me on their own either.

I hated giving up on a book with such an interesting premise, but found myself actually dreading picking it up again.
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