Cindy's Reviews > The Mount

The Mount by Carol Emshwiller
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's review
Dec 12, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, sci-fi, female-authors, aliens, own, book-club, dystopic-or-apocalyptic, ya-childrens-etc
Read from February 27 to March 01, 2011

Such a funny little book. I bought the book partly because of the cover. I was expecting something more grim. Also, I'm labeling this one as YA, even though the publisher hasn't designated it that way. It would be excellent for someone learning English, or who struggles with reading. The story is told from the point-of-view of a pre-teen human "mount."

And no, not "mount" in a pervvy way! Imagine humans as a cross between a horse and a slave, and little alien creatures are perfectly physiologically suited to riding on our shoulders and being our masters. Emshwiller has created a curious dystopia, where humans have become universally subjugated, but not always unhappy.

The way she slowly unveils the aliens - how they look, how they act, how they organize themselves is brilliant. I had to keep remolding and reshaping my image of them. Without giving anything else away, this is ultimately what the story is about: an evolving point of view.

Human subjugation seems to be my theme so far for 2011, from reading Kindred and Gone With the Wind to Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. There's not much more I can say, except humans as property is horrific. Hooray to abolitionists, manumitters, and people working today to help those who are still being trafficked.
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Reading Progress

03/01/2011 page 188

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

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael I've been curious about this book! I've seen it around a few times, and it looks like it could be good in a strange way, or just strange in a strange way.

I'll have to move it up my to-be-read list. I hope your subjugation marathon continues to be fruitful!

Cindy It's good in a strange way, I'd say. I didn't expect it to be so... so... YA, if you know what I mean. It's not my first-choice genre, unlike my happy human-subjugation, or all-out-death-apocalypse favorites.

message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael I know exactly what you mean. Even well-done YA usually just feels kind of.....lite. I usually put off even the heavily recommended stuff like The Hunger Games for quite a while before I give in and read it.

Have you read The Wind-Up Girl? Not a total all-out-death apocalypse, but a fairly dark dystopia set in the future with a good amount of death and destruction. If you haven't yet, I would definitely recommend it.

Cindy Yup, I read Wind-Up Girl last year. It was an interesting Universe he created, but I had, um, some logistical issues with the dystopia. Namely, he seemed to ignore wind and solar power, which seemed odd to me. OTOH, I'd love to have some megadonts hanging around.

I loved how the characters were that lovely mix of good and bad (mostly bad), and yet you still cared about them.

message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael That was one of the big appeals for me. In SF, it's too easy to rely on cool technology and ideas to carry the book, and go light with the characterization. I liked most of the primary characters in that book, and it's rare that I can say that with SF.

He did ignore solar and wind, and I don't think he really gave an explanation of why anywhere. That's a good point. But, the idea of the spring-powered energy was so cool! And the cheshire cats!

(Speaking of relying on cool technology to make up for deficiencies...)

message 6: by Cindy (last edited Mar 03, 2011 02:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cindy And dirigibles!

I had to go re-read my review to remember my "meh" reaction to WUG. The lack of wind and hydroelectric power is a big one - after all, those methods can be low-tech. I hate a deus ex machina reveal or even just crazy technobabble inserted because it's sci-fi. But, but, but it's gotta at least pass some analytic muster, right? Kink springs or no.

But I loved the idea that calories become the currency, and the biopunk creatures were a hoot. And mad props to Bacigalupi for setting this in East Asia.

I also had some problems with the pacing of the plot. It seemed like Bacigalupi was a bit overindulgent in his literary prowess, at the sake of moving the plot forward. Don't get me wrong, I loved the characters and some brilliant phrases, but I would have loved the plot to not stop and start so herky-jerky. WAIT! Was that the point?

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