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Love in the Time of Global Warming

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Her life by the sea in ruins, Pen has lost everything in the Earth Shaker that all but destroyed the city of Los Angeles. She sets out into the wasteland to search for her family, her journey guided by a tattered copy of Homer’s Odyssey. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead. On her voyage, Pen learns to tell stories that reflect her strange visions, while she and her fellow survivors navigate the dangers that lie in wait. In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published August 27, 2013

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About the author

Francesca Lia Block

111 books3,225 followers
Francesca Lia Block is the author of more than twenty-five books of fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry. She received the Spectrum Award, the Phoenix Award, the ALA Rainbow Award and the 2005 Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as other citations from the American Library Association and from the New York Times Book Review, School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly. She was named Writer-in-Residence at Pasadena City College in 2014. Her work has been translated into Italian, French, German Japanese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Portuguese. Francesca has also published stories, poems, essays and interviews in The Los Angeles Times, The L.A. Review of Books, Spin, Nylon, Black Clock and Rattle among others. In addition to writing, she teaches creative writing at University of Redlands, UCLA Extension, Antioch University, and privately in Los Angeles where she was born, raised and currently still lives.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 740 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
September 29, 2019
if you have been waiting for a dystopian retelling of the odyssey set in LA after an earthquake/tsunami combo ruins EVERYTHING and it is penelope who gets to do the odysseying this time, then guess what?? you only need to wait until august 27th!

it is a great adaptation, and even though it does call attention to its source material too frequently, pretty much literally stating several times "like in the odyssey!!!" i can overlook it because my guess is that most teens haven't studied their homer with any real rigor - at that age, you are mostly just reading excerpts in school unless you are an industrious little independent reader.

i have only read weetzie bat from block before, but i intend to go back and read everything she has ever written. why wasn't i reading her in high school? i would have been so much cooler. block is what all the bad girls read. the girls who aren't all clumsy and lovelorn - the ones who fall for the other bad boys or girls, but who can take 'em or leave 'em - the tiny frail-looking things with whorish eye makeup and little sparkly-thin dresses who would cut you as soon as look at you and are on a much cooler plane than you will ever be. her stories are what every teen girl should be reading in order to grow up into formidable women.

this one doesn't have a tough-girl protagonist, but a girl who says time and again how scared she is, how cowardly. and yet, faced with what she is faced with: the destruction of her city, her family swept away from her, the uncertainty of what will happen to her, and man-eating giants roaming the rubble, she girls up, shaves her head, and goes out to take back what matters to her, despite her fear. it is very inspirational.

pen has always felt like an outsider. in the time before the tsunami:

They were laughing and their hair was shining in the haze of Christmas lights, their limbs long as saplings. I thought, girls are magical, at this phase, girls are invincible, nothing can touch them. I didn't think "us" because I didn't feel that; I felt other, on the outside, watching them. I stayed at home with Ovid's Metamorphosis. At least I was smart, I told myself. I read the encyclopedia for fun. Not everyone could do that Would want to do that, my friends would have said.

and along her journey in the after, she meets up with other misfit kids who felt "other" because of their gender or sexuality, and through their triumphs over the monsters they encounter they find friendship and love and acceptance and yadda yadda.

it sounds pat, but block has such facility with language and such a knack for creating characters that are at once recognizable and wholly original, it transcends whatever book-reporty regurgitation of plot i could come up with here. she is also one of the pioneers of the YA LGBTQ novel, writing weetzie bat when david levithan was probably still getting bullied in school. and she does it so well, so casually and matter-of-factly, you just gotta be awestruck with how cool she is. and was. and ever shall be.

oh, if you are looking for other cool odyssey riffs, allow me to suggest The Suitors, because NO ONE reads this book, and it makes me fume a little. i loved it. hhmph.

come to my blog!
September 26, 2013
You have to be a certain type of reader in order to enjoy Francesca Lia Block's works. She writes beautifully, I will say that, but her stories require a certain amount of willing suspension of disbelief, an acceptance of the extraordinary, a completely dismissal of rationality and sense...and in that sense, this book did not appeal to me. It is lovely, it is magical, it is abstract and surreal...but the experience of reading Love in the Time of Global Warming just gave me an overwhelming headache. I would say this book is best accompanied with a lot of psychotropic drugs. Maybe a few magical brownies. Or perhaps an entire pan.

I am not a artful reader, which is why I struggle so much with speculative fiction. I do not merely accept things. I need rationality, I need things to make sense. A dreamlike, surreal scene does nothing for me besides making me want to rip out my hair by its roots (and I have been known to do that, it's a wonder I am not entirely bald by now). I need an explanation, I cannot accept things just because the book says so. If you are a reader with a similar mindset, this book is not for you. So many strange things happen in this book that we are just expected to accept, that just happens because of---magic! No. That doesn't cut it for me.

I don't even know what genre this book falls into. It is half-hearted at anything it attempts. It's a half-assed attempt at an apocalyptic novel. It's a nod and a wink at the Odyssey. It is a partial attempt at science fiction that doesn't even try to make sense.

Let's go back to the beginning, to the premise of the book. A grand, apocalyptic event has occurred. The Earth Shaker. It's some earthquake-thing that is left deliberately very, very vague because our heroine, Penelope (Pen) has conveniently lost her memory of the event. Afterwards, she hides out in her home, her father, mother, little brother, all lost to god-knows-where. When her home is threatened by a group of interlopers, a kind stranger within their group (deux ex fucking machina, man, there's so much of it in this fucking book) helps her out by giving her his well-fueled car and a mysterious map with a highlighted path to Las Vegas.

Pen's trip to her eventual destination is a present-day version of Homer's Odyssey. It is so weird. It is so dreamlike. People, places, events appear so completely out of nowhere. Her journey is fraught with strange, nonsensical detours, and Pen's behavior leans towards the verge of TSTL behavior at times. The world as she knows it is destroyed, split in pieces, in ashes! Now would be a great time to visit the Los Angeles County Museum.
I saw crushed cars stacked on top of one another and the street in front of my house split in two, exposing the innards of the earth. Nothing grew and not a soul roamed. The trees had fallen and the ground was barren of any life, the world as far as I could see, deserted.
A most excellent time for a side trip to places she's visited as a child with her beloved mother. Like fucking really, Pen?

Pen runs into some of the strangest people (and creatures ever). They are straight out of the Odyssey---the modern equivalent of them, that is, and they make no goddamn sense! And Pen just ACCEPTS all these strange people, all these strange events without question, I just cannot comprehend it. She meets Hex, a stranger with whom she falls in love and bonds (and gets hopelessly high) over Lotus Juice over at the Culver Hotel.
The doors are all open and people are inside sleeping or hooking up, survivors like us. Broken bottles and clothing litter the hallways. A girl is crunched up into a ball, hugging her knees and whistling, pointing at the blank wall. Another is crushing red flowers so the juice drips into her mouth; some spills down her neck in rivulets.
“I love you,” my new friend says. “What’s your name?”
Did I say things make no sense? Because things make no sense.

They eventually leave, and meet other versions of Odyssey characters, like Circe---who's actually a washed up soap-opera star who fucks young boys for fun. And feeds them cakes.

They encounter Giants. Literal Giants. Who are supposed to be the fucked-up scientific anomaly of a madman.

They gather up still more beautiful young creatures like Ash and Ez, both of whom are gorgeous, both of whom have Tragic Pasts, and both of whom end up accompanying them on their journey. Which still makes no sense.

I have a problem with how the gay characters are used in the book . Let me get one thing straight: I have no problems with transgendered/lesbian/gay/bisexuality of any kind. I support gay marriage, I support equality, and I wish there were more gay characters that are well-represented in literature.

With that said, the characters in this book are not real people. They are archetypes. They are all troubled. They are all special in their own way. They do not act, they do not feel like normal human beings. I get the overwhelming impression that all the characters in this book are there to send a message, and that is all. None of the characters in this book felt like human beings to me. They are artful, they are highly stylized. They are all visually beautifully, stunningly modelesque. They are not real. Which is typical of all of the author's characters from the majority of her books, really.

Take the love interest, Dex:
Hex tells me that back Then, when he was twelve, he started drinking and using, doing whatever it took to get his supply. “Good times.” At thirteen he was a full-blown addict and it got worse when he started DJing five years later because he could get into all the clubs and everyone was always giving him free alcohol and drugs. “I was like this mini–pill machine, downing them with whiskey. Could drink a dude twice my size under the table.”
The side characters have equally implausible stories. They are tragic, Ez and Ash and Dex are meant to send a message, and I feel strongly that gay characters should not just be there for the point of sending a fucking message. They are people. They are not social commentaries.

As I said, you have to be a fan of her writing and her characterization...and I am not, however much I have tried to be.
Profile Image for Angela.
633 reviews1,333 followers
January 25, 2016

Yeah you could safely say I was bored reading this book.

This book was said to be magical, unique, and abstract. I just didn't get this. The concept and idea behind this book is genius but isn't presented that way. It is crystal clear that Block is a good writer but the way she beautifully depicts the scenery around Pen wasn't enough to save this novel.The characters weren't fleshed out, the love is dry, and things were way to convenient. The fact that Pen our leading lady doesn't question anything that happens to her kind of baffles me.

I was really excited to read this book and was really hoping it would knock my socks off... sadly this didn't happen.

A book with a cover like this and a title that made me want to purchase it, I was expecting more.

Profile Image for shady boots.
500 reviews2,037 followers
May 2, 2015
I thought this was beautiful.

I can definitely see why this book is so polarizing, since almost the entirety of it doesn't really make much sense, and for any logical thinker it would just bombard you with frustrating question after frustrating question. I assume that most of the negative ratings for this book are due to how off-the-wall and strange the events in it are. But I chose not to think logically at all as I read, and ended up enjoying myself, because I thought the airy, poetic writing fit perfectly with it and I loved how brimming with magic, mythology and even some elements of sci-fi the book is.

I will say that I had to take away a star due to the characters. While I appreciated that almost every single one of them were LGBT, I felt that it lacked the necessary emotional connection that would have given this book the extra oomph it needed for me to give it 4.5 or even 5 stars. I didn't mind the insta-love all that much, surprisingly, but I still would have liked to have seen more as far as the development of the characters went.

Overall, the book felt to me like a literary equivalent of a surrealism painting. It doesn't necessarily have to make sense, and it definitely makes you furrow your eyebrows, but if you don't really think logically, it's quite peculiar and mesmerizing.
Profile Image for A.B. Neilly.
Author 4 books19 followers
February 17, 2019
I don't know how to write a review and be fair to this little jewel of fiction I found by hazard.
This is an epic story about a girl who has to face the end of the world and the beginning of a new world where giants and magic live together in a terrible world filled with human stones and the death of a civilization.
It is an LGBT story also, with wonderful characters that have different abilities.
At the beginning all looked strange, but as the story advances all makes sense and the world building gets together as a solved puzzle.
I loved Hex, and Pen, and the other characters. I loved their weakness and strength, their love for the Iliad and the paintings made by the masters. Their mastery of music.
Like mad artist in an Apocalyse world, they run over the ruins of what it was, trying to make sense of what is now.
And love emerges and grow, scattered like the buildings, menaced by all kinds of dangers. A pure and sweet love.
And their is a second part. What could be better?
Profile Image for Andrew (BritBookBoy).
92 reviews218 followers
May 13, 2014
"I have a feeling," he says, "that things are going to get worse." <- A quote from the book which perfectly articulates my feelings towards this with every page turned.

Love in the Time of Global Warming is a retelling of Homer's The Odyssey, set in modern day Los Angeles to the backdrop of natural disaster. A story idea that had such potential I really wanted to love it, but ultimately it falls completely flat due to irritating characters and a nonsensical plot.

After a catastrophic event known as 'The Earthshaker' ends life the way she knows it, Pen's family disappears. After months of holing up in her destroyed house grieving for her lost loved ones, an intruder breaks in and kindly offers her a van full of fuel, food, and of course, a map that conveniently leads Pen straight to her beloved family. You'd think she'd get the map straight out and hightail it to wherever they were being kept, right? Wrong. Because what could be more important than forgetting all that to: stop off at the supermarket; visit that weird mansion her mom once took her to - a definite priority; and don't forget how vital it must be to visit the museum she did arts and crafts at as a child, just out of curiosity to see if it's still there. Toss in a few more useless pit stops before finally thinking to oneself, weeks later no less, 'Merk mentioned a map. You need to find them. There's a map in the van. I'd forgotten.' I rolled my eyes so hard at this point, I almost lost an iris.

The 'plot' of this book is basically non-existent. It's simply a string of random, contrived events drawn together by the author as a way to introduce characters from the original tale. There's no relevance, no impact, everything is rushed, and it leaves you feeling pretty bewildered at what on earth the author was trying to achieve.

My biggest issue with this book, however, was the way the lead character, Pen, was written. For a girl who is totally unaware that anything beyond an earthquake has happened at the start of this journey, she shows absolutely no reaction or emotion when a giant picks her up at the supermarket and tries to eat her. This happens again and again, all these absurd events occur and she doesn't even question anything until past two thirds of the way through. It's not because she's some tough as nails chick who takes everything in her stride, she is literally just missing a chromosome that allows her to react or question anything that happens. If I woke up to giants and bewitching sirens around every corner trying to kill me or trap me, I would be freaking the freak out and questioning everything.

The haphazard references to the Odyssey were so poorly done, and get thrown at you at random intervals. This supposed parallel is something our MC at least acknowledges, but of course without even batting an eyelid. Bizarre references to works of art and encyclopaedia facts are also regurgitated throughout, because of course the MC reads encyclopaedias for fun. There's also one of the poorest constructed insta-love relationships I've ever had the misfortune of reading.

I will admit I enjoyed snippets of Block's prose, and some of her scenery descriptions gave nice imagery. However, this wasn't enough to rate it any higher than 1.5 stars.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,652 followers
August 19, 2013
Let it not be said that I don't read with an open mind. There's a lot of talk on Goodreads and in the book blogging community about "hate reading" and whether or not one should do it. Deciding to read Love in the Time of Global Warming might have seemed a questionable choice, because I absolutely loathed with every fiber of my being the first and only Francesca Lia Block book that I read: Weetzie Bat. However, if I didn't risk possibly hating this one and feeling stupid for wasting my time or being deemed a "hate reader," I wouldn't have gotten to experience this amazing book. Even going into a book fearing the worst, there's a chance that you will be unexpectedly swept off your feet, and I've seen this happen to pretty much every blogger I know. So, surprisingly enough to me and to Bekka of Pretty Deadly Reviews who convinced me to read Love in the Time of Global Warming, I kind of loved this book.

My issue with Weetzie Bat was that the book read like I'd been unwilling forced into some sort of drug trip, which is not my thing in the slightest. The book is crazy and the writing annoyed me to no end. Love in the Time of Global Warming is definitely incredibly odd and a little bit crazy, but, for some reason, one I can't really put my finger on except to say that it just sort of comes together perfectly, this one worked for me.

The writing, while still more poetic and off the wall then I generally like, is this lyrical prose that fits perfectly with the story. Block makes excellent use of imagery and achieves a style that hearkens back to Homer's Odyssey while still being totally her own, which I really admire, because it's so tough to achieve.

What I really love about Love in the Time of Global Warming is that it's this genre mash up of awesomeness. Block blends together mythology, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, and magical realism into a book that should come out an incomprehensible mess, and may for some readers, but combined to be this brilliant, strange utterly unique little book for me.

There's this real blend of science fiction/post-apocalyptic with the retelling elements. While some aspects are explained with science, like the giants, others are where the magical realism comes into play, like the lotuses. Personally, I love magical realism and the way that it brought everything together and really made this retelling possible in a world no longer populated by gods and goddesses in our cultural imagination.

In no way is Love in the Time of Global Warming a strict retelling, but Block manages to bring in quite a few of the major plot elements, and they're clearly recognizable. Even better, Block doesn't have the tendency to go on and on in endless descriptions like Homer does. Also, Block takes a story that's very patriarchal, with the only women vile seductresses or waiting at home for their men, and makes it an LGBT love story with a heroine, slyly named Penelope in a nod to the one awesome woman in Homer's work, instead of a hero. All of the main characters have LGBT leanings and they're all messed up, but ultimately likable people with more to them than what initially meets the eye. In some ways, the apocalypse is what frees them to be who they are, because the end of the world really puts life into perspective.

My only reservations are these: one personal and one more analytical. On a personal note, I didn't feel any real emotional connection, this not being so much a character-driven story. In fact, I'm amazed I liked it so much given that I'm such a character-based reader, however the writing and story really resonated and struck the perfect tone. Analytically, there was a little plot line about Pen's parents that I didn't really think was entirely necessary. I didn't remember this from The Odyssey, but apparently another account (as in not written by Homer), explains this little addition. While I can see why she did that, it felt rather out of place since not much really happened with regards to this small twist.

If you appreciate genre-bending novels, particularly those with magical realism, I urge you to give Love in the Time of Global Warming a try. It's a strange, unique book and won't be for everyone, but Francesca Lia Block has woven together something magical here.
March 22, 2017
3.5 Something-Different Stars

We are all insane. But how do you distinguish sanity from insanity, how do you diagnose abnormality in this new world?

Love in the Time of Global Warming starts off very similarly to a lot of teen dystopia novels; a young woman finds herself in an impossible situation, heartbroken and lost and just trying to get by the best way she can. Surviving, as it were, simply to survive.

I’ll be honest here, I have never read Homer’s Odyssey, so I have no idea about comparability between the two. Though there are many instances where Homer’s classic is mentioned throughout the text. I picked this book up on sale a couple years ago after reading the lovely karen’s review and getting cover-lust for the object art of it.

I didn’t love this story, but it was a good little dystopian. Showcasing characters that are unique, multi-faceted and interesting. It delves into the soul-shattering emotional state of loss and trying to find your place in a world that has irrevocably changed. The language that Block uses here is simplistic but it works for the story, I believe.

“What are you going to do if you find art, Pen? You going to steal some and put it in the van?"
"I'm going to remember. When there was art.”

I enjoyed the use of butterfly symbolism here, as well as the different mystical elements at play. It may be a little darker in some regards than I normally come across from a teen dystopian, though that darkness isn’t displayed in the foreground.

It’s worth noting that all of Block’s main characters fall somewhere into the LGBTQ+ community, which I thoroughly enjoyed but may be off-putting to some readers. I especially like the way that Pen and Hex’s friendship is portrayed and the hard conversations the two have about their own histories.

I really should read The Odyssey... *le sigh*
Profile Image for Maciek.
562 reviews3,320 followers
June 17, 2014
I was drawn in to this book because of the title and its gorgeous cover, which is why I'm sad to report that it turned out to be a total mess.

Initially, I was excited by the synopsis - a retelling of The Odyssey performed against the background of post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. This is a story with real potential - I expected beautiful and unusual imagery, and a touching and moving story with plentiful of poetic references to classic Greek mythology...but Love in the Time of Global Warming is none of these things.

I'm not sure the book actually knows what it would like to be. It begins with the cataclysmic event known only as The Earth Shaker (what else could have brought down L.A.?) destroying pretty much everything, and leaving 17 year old Penelope (Pen for short - just like the wife of Odysseus) on her own. Obviously, Pen sets out to find her missing family
- but then the book loses whatever focus it had and completely derails, becoming muddled, confused and unconvincing.

Instead of being merely an analogy to The Odyssey, the book introduce actual elements from the classic epic - Giant cyclops, Sirens, Sorcerers - and tries to mix them with teenage angst of its young characters who try to survive after the apocalypse, which goes as well as you might imagine. The result is a scattered series of events which do not make any sense ,and do not join together to form any coherent plot - things just happen because the author wants them to happen. Multitudes of characters are introduced in a very short amount of time which makes it all but impossible to care for any of them, no matter how fantastical and unique they are described to be. The main character accepts even the weirdest events as if they were the most ordinary, never questioning anything that happens. All other characters are archetypes - they're special, unique, and do not act or think like ordinary human beings. The whole thing perplexing and difficult to follow.

To top everything it all ends with a cliffhanger, indicating that it's just a first novel in a series - the second volume is already announced and will be published later this year. This was not the case when I discovered this book, and I read it with expectations that it's a fully self-contained story - that it's not the case is even more disappointing. I can't really recommend this to anyone, and the only things which save it from 1 star is my love for dystopias and the author's occasionally good surreal imagery. I just wish there was more in these pages to care about - such as a good story!
Profile Image for Angus.
41 reviews13 followers
November 26, 2012
What an extraordinary piece of writing? Beautiful and terrifying, realistic and fantastical. The author takes us on a journey through a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles seen through the eyes of Pen, who has lost everything but hopes her family have survived and sets off in search of them. Along the way she meets a colorful cast of characters and discovers much about herself and, eventually, finds what she is so desperately seeking - love, in its many forms.
Pen's journey has epic qualities like the copy of The Odyssey she finds, and intensely personal moments as she tracks down her loved ones. Francesca Lia Block writes beautiful prose which heightens the moments of terror in the novel. The imagined world is vivid and real and the fantastical elements believably integrated. I loved her characters, both good and bad, and despite the devastation and horror, was swept up in the storytelling and gently left to rest on a sweet note of hope at the end of the novel, not unlike a butterfly coming to settle on a petal. Powerful, magical, beautiful, and moving . . . I hope you will enjoy this masterful piece of writing.
Profile Image for Renee.
891 reviews11 followers
February 25, 2013
The cover is gorgeous...the title makes little sense. At first, I thought this was going to be a play off of Love in the Time of Cholera, but instead it had tons of greek mythological references (which was a cool part). I just couldn't wrap my brain around the plot. Global warming caused more natural disasters, got it. Then one day a huge tidal wave comes and the water level stays really high...mmm okay. Then we learn that a crazy scientist created giants and they are hitting the earth's plates and eating people...weird. But wait the butterflies are leading the main character around and are souls of the dead! And one of the characters who is male, used to be female! And people start to have magical abilities! And if the bones of a dead girl are planted, she might come back to life! And the main character gets her eye taken out! And gasp her father was not her biological father!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews907 followers
March 23, 2016
Truly a unique novel combining a post-apocalyptic setting with Greek mythology combining with the will to survive and a mission to find one's family. Also bonus points for the LGBT relationships! Very beautiful writing indeed. I liked this one even though none of it made any sense, I just went with it and was surprised at how easy it was to read it in just two sittings. Okay not really since it was short but it was an overall interesting read.
Profile Image for Carrie (brightbeautifulthings).
826 reviews30 followers
March 16, 2022
I want to read everything Francesca Lia Block has ever written, and I’ve been looking forward to Love in the Time of Global Warming for as long as it’s been out. I’ll forever be in love with her Dangerous Angels series, and I recently fell pretty hard for her poetry collection, How to (Un)Cage a Girl.

The world has ended, and when Penelope is chased from her house by a band of looters, she finds the courage to go looking for her missing family. But the world isn’t what it was. Giants roam Los Angeles, and Pen and her friends must face a series of challenges eerily parallel to those in The Odyssey in order to win her family back.

I don’t understand why more people aren’t talking about this book, because it has basically everything in it. It’s a contemporary Greek mythology re-telling of The Odyssey set in California, if Penelope were the hero instead of Odysseus. Every single main character is LGBTQ. Let me repeat that. EVERY SINGLE MAIN CHARACTER IS LGBTQ. All of them. Block has never been shy about including LGBTQ characters in her novels, even back in the early 90’s (it’s one of the things I love about them). She does a nice job with Pen’s realization that she isn’t straight, and the characters’ identities are handled with compassion and acceptance. It also tackles environmental issues (and apocalypse stories) with a fascinating twist and a deft hand. Everyone should read it.

I love the characters. Pen is an admirable heroine, both brave and uncertain. This girl is such a cupcake, she’s trying to recycle even after the apocalypse has happened, but she’s also fierce enough to sacrifice parts of herself to save her family. She sees the world through paintings and mythology, which makes her both interesting and relatable (at least to other bookworms). Her love for her little brother, Venice, echoes off the pages even when he isn’t there for most of them, and the romance between Pen and Hex is at once sweet and awkward. I didn’t get as much of a feel for Ez and Ash, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in The Island of Excess Love.

Block’s writing is, as always, beautiful and lyrical, with short, simple sentences that nevertheless evoke strong imagery. The book itself has lovely cover art and butterfly designs inside. I really enjoyed her twists on mythology, but I had a harder time following some of them. I suspect that this is the kind of book that rewards re-reading, and that I would better be able to pick up on some of the things I missed a second time through. I didn’t realize until I finished that it had a sequel, and while I was satisfied with the ending, I’m happy to see more of characters that I loved.

I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.
Profile Image for Neil (or bleed).
965 reviews740 followers
February 23, 2016

This was really a dystopia/post-apocalyptic but it was more of that because it was also a retelling of Odysseus and I didn't read yet that book so it was all new to me and so I was surprised when there is mythology in here and everything felt surreal.

To be honest, it was like a Percy Jackson adventure because our main character, Penelope, has a search to do-- a search for her family who has been lost after the Planet Shaker, that shook the Earth and brought destruction to the entire world-- and whenever there was a stopover, there are unnatural, unbelievable mythological creatures she will meet. That is laughable if it wasn't an Odysseus retelling.

Did I mention Percy Jackson? Oh it was like that but the action in this book is no compare to the PJO series. Actually, there is NO ACTION AT ALL. When I'm near to that action, it has always been cut, I don't know why, and I was left disappointed.

The title is the reason why I read this book. That was so timely. Then again, I was disappointed but, there are events that really heartfelt and intelligent for me. And, I think it will be more okay if it stick to one theme, either mythology itself or dystopia/post-apocalyptic.
Profile Image for Catfairy Books.
97 reviews32 followers
October 13, 2013
"My pink house-no longer mine-stands on the edge of nowhere like a rose in a Salvador Dali surrealist desert landscape...."

In high school I was forced to read and analyze "The Odyssey" and let me tell you, it was the most boring and drawn out piece of literature that I have read in my entire life. There are many pieces of literature I appreciated and fell in love with as my required reading in high school such as "Their Eyes Were Watching God", The House on Mango Street and of course one of my favorites of all time "The Great Gatsby" but "The Odyssey" was definitely not one of them! (I got to the point that I couldn't take it anymore and read the cliff notes version known as Sparks Notes!) But knowing that my beloved author Francesca Lia Block was coming out with a modern twist of "The Odyssey" influenced me to give it a read and let's just say it definitely didn't leave me with the glazed over feeling that I got when reading it in high school. And thankfully I didn't need Sparks Notes this time... :)

"Then I see a butterfly dart in front of my face; it's like the one that came to my window. It circles back and around my head, then flies forth to where a lime green VW bus is parked in the wasteland. I run toward it, open the door, and jump inside. Men are running out of the house, chasing me, howling. I jam the key into the ignition and turn it. The bus jolts forward, careening over rubble and debris. Taking me away into this severed world."

The whole time as I was reading this book I felt like I was transported into a swirly and epic fairytale. The story begins with the main character of Pen who sees life through art paintings, a storyteller who has visions of her life and other people, an avid book reader and awkward teenager trying to make sense of her sexuality. Pen has lost her entire family due to the Earth Shaker that has left the city of Los Angeles into an utter wasteland.The only thing that is left for her is her lovely but dilapidated pink house that was up for foreclosure but now that doesn't mean much anymore because of the Earth Shaker. Penelope sees a single Monarch butterfly which is the only sign that there is still life and most importantly still a small shred of hope.

In the story a mysterious man whose identity is finally revealed at the end of the story comes into Pen's pink house and gives her a chance of escape to look for her family. He leaves her a VW bus and a chocolate bar which she gladly receives (I don't blame her.) and that's how Pen's fantastical and perilous journey finally begins. Later on her drive she discovers a grocery story that she used to go to that is still filled with supplies and she encounters one of the giants. She has a pair of scissors and stabs one of Kronen's giants in the eye.

The character of Kronen is what you would call a "mad scientist" who Pen's father worked for. Kronen created these giants that were unusually large that it caused sheer devastation to Los Angeles which is how the Earth Shaker started in the first place.

"The world might be gone but somehow, here with Hex, it feels like when we open our eyes it will all come back, so much better than before."

Of course it wouldn't be an epic fairy tale without meeting some life-changing friends along the way. Pen meets a boy named Hex with an inked tattoo that says "Heartless" and Pen slowly falls for him in her journey. He is a dark character who is a sword wielding fighter who feels as if he is devoid of love but realizes in the end that love is all there is left especially when the world is gone. Pen also meets Ash who has "lighter than-a-paper-bag skin and almond green eyes" and who has a life changing gift of bringing music to escape the havoc of his surroundings. And finally she meets Ez who is named after Ezra Pound. Ez has a love for art and has an obsession with anything related to sugar. Ez has always felt like an outsider especially because he struggles with his sexuality and has an attraction to sketching male nudes. This leads Ez to form a special bond and connection with Ash that he has never had before.

She also meets many people who try to halt her journey such as the many giants lurking around Los Angeles, a soap star named Circe who is described as looking like a "pre-Raphaelite Waterhouse painting" who makes them stay with her forever and eat cake or is the cake really an illusion? And of course the story wouldn't be The Odyssey without the infamous "sirens" who are described looking like one of those surgically enhanced Beverly Hills housewives on Bravo.

..."Wasn't that what art was, after all? Desperate artists telling stories, drawing images, in order to keep some part of the goddess alive and close?"

Since I am an aspiring art history buff myself there were so many descriptions of whimsical paintings interlaced within the story like Salvador Dali, Monet and new artists that I am now newly introduced to from reading this book. (Thank you FLB<3.) Some amazing artists that were described in the book are Elihi Vedder, Odilon Redon, Francis Bacon and Edwin Romanzo Elmer.

The style and design of the book is one of the most beautiful designs of FLB books that I have read. The decorations of the Monarch butterflies in every chapter made me think of them as "fairy butterflies" which is what they probably are<3 Every word I read in this book was read carefully and I fell in love again with FLB's usual descriptive and captivatingly poetic writing style. All the characters were described with such magical minute detail that I am able to see them in my mind and that's one of the biggest reasons why I love FLB's writing. Towards the end of the story I didn't want to stop reading about Pen's journey and wanted the book to be longer, possibly even a sequel but as usual I was drunk on her words from beginning to end.

"Were on the road to nowhere...

I found it funny that throughout the story I had the Talking Heads song "Road to Nowhere" stuck in my head. I was enamored with every turn of the page in this story and even though the characters felt like they were on a "Road to Nowhere" in the end they all found their destiny and most importantly they found themselves in each other which is more meaningful then the world crumbling around them.

See the characters that I cast for Love in the time of Global Warming on my blog!

Profile Image for Heidi.
756 reviews175 followers
September 24, 2013
1.5 Stars

I know there are many Francesca Lia Block fans out there, however, this was my first experience with the author myself. I apologize to her many fans, but strait up–this book was a freaking mess. Unlike The Rathbones, it was not (in my opinion) well written or constructed, but also unlike The Rathbones it was slightly more successful in being a retelling of The Odyssey. I say slightly because I’m not convinced FLB knew what she was going for here–and boy does it show. We begin with a character, Pen, who aptly shares a name with Odysseus’ abandoned wife from the original. She is surviving alone after a recent–completely nonsensical apocalypse, and sets out on an epic journey to find her family. Initially the journey seems to be a bit of a checklist of Odyssey stops–cyclops (check!), lotus eaters (check!), sorceress (check!), sirens (check!), but FLB’s story quickly becomes muddled between the story she is trying to tell and the story she is trying to retell. Quite frankly, the two didn’t really go together and it shows.

Whenever a story overtly acknowledges its source material–aka in Love in the Time of Global Warming (and excuse me for non sequitur aside but can I point out how the Marquez title indicates that once again our author has no idea what she’s trying to do with this book?) the characters have a copy of The Odyssey and are very familiar with the story–I feel like the retelling is bound to fail. For Penelope and her companions, The Odyssey becomes a sort of guide. They begin seeing their path as it relates to Odysseus’, but when at some point FLB completely derails from this retelling angle to tell her own unlikely apocalypse story, the guidebook no longer makes sense. I see an inherent flaw in acknowledging the story you are retelling while retelling it–in my mind this provides you with less wiggle room and creative licence, and in LitToGW it snowballs into confusion.

Many retelling of The Odyssey are quite short, and this one is no exception, but that also made Pen’s tale very muddled and unfeeling. So many characters are introduced in such a short page count that we are unable to care about any of them. On top of which, it somehow became a LGBT crusade? Again, FLB’s addition of the LGBT component made her story seem more schizophrenic and uncertain of itself rather than making the strong positive statement about LGBT people that she intended. I strongly feel that had the author stepped back and really considered the story she wanted to tell, rather than throwing everything in one bucket (seriously, this book feels like it was pantsed), it could have been cleaner, smoother, and just plain better. As is, Love in the Time of Global Warming is, as stated, a mess, and I can’t really recommend it to anyone.

Original review posted at Bunbury in the Stacks.
Profile Image for Jessica.
501 reviews42 followers
February 9, 2013
Imagine the apocalypse striking Weetzie Bat's glittering LA. Penelope sees her city struck by disaster, her family scattered by the waves. Reinventing herself as Pen, she sets out to find her survivors. Part dystopia, part disaster, part road trip, and part love story, Pen and her VW van gather survivors as she heads to the underworld (where else but Vegas) in an attempt to save her family.

I think this and The Elementals are some of FLB's strongest work in years, possibly since Necklace of Kisses. Pen's world is scary and dark, but she carries the memories of her life as a regular teenaged girl with her. Armed with mythology and determination, Pen becomes what she must in order to find what she needs. Modeled after The Odyssey, it consciously references Homer's work within the text, but can still stand alone for readers who don't know or haven't read the original story. After reading it, I now want to re-read the Odyssey. I'd love to see a library or bookstore display of various reinterpretations/reimaginings of The Odyssey, maybe as a promotional tool for this book.
Profile Image for Tina.
269 reviews171 followers
April 28, 2016
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I am not sure how to write one of my regular reviews for this novel, and I think that if I did, it would be a lot of filler words, so instead I am trying something different this time.

5 Reasons to Read This Novel:

1. It is what it says it is. That's not to say that the book doesn't have layers - that it wouldn't make for an interesting study. No, not at all; indeed I suspect the very opposite. What I mean, however, is that for all of you who wanted to win my ARC based on the synopsis, you have a book that has been accurately described. A post-apocalyptic retelling of the Odyssey with a feminist twist and writing heavily steeped in magical realism. If the sound of that appeals to you, go for it.

2. Did you love the Odyssey? I am a huge Odyssey fan. It is one of my favorite books from school - I read it far ahead of the rest of my class and continued to reread certain passages even after we'd finished discussing. One of the most fun parts to Love in the Time of Global Warming is seeing which elements from the Odyssey have been incorporated and how they've been changed - how this novel becomes a mishmash of post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, and mythology-inspired elements, and magical realism atmosphere. From sirens to Circe to a vast number of other elements that I shall let you explore on your own, you have a wonderful adventure to unravel. This story is not a strict retelling of the Odyssey, but the plot elements from the epic are clearly recognizable.

3. Are you looking for a new (writing) experience? I've not read many magical realism tales in YA, and I'm still not quite sure what to make of my experience with this book, but the writing is gorgeous. It's poetic and flowing and atmospheric, and alternates between past and present. The two are seamlessly interwoven and work well to depict the sense of loss that Pen has experienced and a sort of dreaminess that makes this apocalypse somehow feel real. Here is a sample from early on (sorry--forgot to mark the page #):

"The chocolate bar is gone by the time I return from the memory; I haven't even enjoyed the dense crack of sweetness. As I lick the dark stains off my fingers, I wonder if I'll ever know chocolate, again, let alone the residue of love."

4. Are you looking for more diversity? This book has got it in spades: from its genre-bending ways to the incorporation of several LGBT characters. Thank you, Macmillan, for your initiative.

5. Penelope, the heroine, and the feminist edge. Have you ever felt dissatisfied with the sort of patriarchal tones in ancient epics? This book has a sort of wry self-awareness of its own criticism and retelling of old myths. For instance, here's a quote toward the beginning to demonstrate (sorry--forgot to mark the page # again):

"Sometimes we had slumber parties in my room and I'd made up stories to help them sleep--tales based on the myths I'd read or the paintings I'd seen. Tales of the great heroes of the past, who sailed the seas, fought monsters, and rescued their friends and lovers. I made up words, too, which drove my friends crazy... Sometimes I made Odysseus, Aeneas, and Achilles into heroines instead. My friends liked that twist, although it wasn't always easy for me to do since the original stories were so male-oriented, women often so passively or negatively portrayed."

Several scholars, such as Nicole Loraux and Froma Zeitlin, have noted the sexual double standard that exists in the ancient Greek myths and epics. For instance, in myth and epic, men tend to die at the hands of others or in battle, retrieving glory or shame for their house, while Penelope, Odysseus's wife, receives glory for sustaining her marriage via her fidelity. The epitaphs for Athenian women were shorter and described a woman whose feminine worth was high--who served her husband or family well, for the glory of women was certainly not the glory of men. Even in Hesiod's origin story, woman is naught but a punishment, an afterthought that resulted from the creation of man.

What Ms. Lia Block does brilliantly is take all of this and refashion Homer's tale into a story with a feminist lens. Penelope is strong, level-headed, a heroine of epic proportions in a epic tale on loss and love, death and rebirth, tragedy and hope. Penelope is finally given her own journey rather than waiting passively for her husband's return from the war. She attains her own kleos in this novel, and bravo to Ms. Lia Block! I am looking forward to rereading this one so that I can analyze the writing and themes more deeply.

Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll do my best to answer them.

PS - if you're interested in knowing more about epitaphs, origin stories, etc., I can direct you to some of the books that I found helpful.
Profile Image for Jocelin.
1,856 reviews45 followers
January 26, 2014
I was swayed by the artistically rendered cover. It was really lovely and captivating. The story however, not so much. The blurb on the back was described as it being a modern retelling of "The Odyssey" by Homer. It felt like it would be a poetic journey across an apocalyptic waste land. I couldn't find my way out until the end. I like mythology, so I thought I would give it a whirl. It felt like a cross between "Mad Max" and "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" as written by Quentin Tarantino & Spike Jonze. There were bloody moments in it and really creepy moments. There was a lot of discussion about art (the landscape of the book had a Salvador Dali feel almost mixed with an urban decay back drop). I don't know where that came from but I felt like this book was going in lots of directions and didn't really take you anywhere. The book felt ostentatious and scattered. The main heroine Pen, seemed like she didn't even want to be in the story. Her love interest Hex seemed like a colossal jerk, which she couldn't get enough of. There was nothing there for me to develop any interest in characters. They were weird together and Hex was really callous towards her. I am not sure how this series will proceed, but it will do so without me.
Profile Image for Heather.
571 reviews
March 2, 2013
I have been a fan of Francesca Lia Block since reading Dangerous Angels, a collection of her Weetzie Bat stories. Her writing sways toward a magical realism and it is what I would call an acquired taste. It's always full of incredible imagery and while not fancy or flowery, is both beautiful and unusual. In fact, unusual is probably the best word to describe her books and her writing style. She's definitely in a class all her own.

So I was very excited to get the chance to read Love in the Time of Global Warming (love the play on Lorca's Love in the Time of Cholera:) And the fact that Love in the Time of Global Warming is a re-imagining of Homer's classic epic poem, The Odyssey, didn't hurt either. I am a huge fan of Classical Greek mythology and was anxious to read Block's version of this tale of a war hero trying to find his way home. And you guys, I have to say, I have not experienced a more imaginative retelling of a piece of classical literature since watching O Brother Where Art Thou, another incredible take on the story of Odysseus' travels created by the awesome Coen brothers. Most of Homer's classic is included in Block's book but spun in a truly genius way.

We meet Pen (short for Penelope), a teenage girl whose world is about to be upended. In one blinding instant everything she knows, her family, her home, her life, is forever changed. A disaster of epic proportions has struck Pen's home of Southern California. It started with a devastating earthquake and was followed by an even more destructive tsunami. Pen's father, mother, little brother Venice, and dog Argos are all gone. In fact it would appear that her entire city has been wiped out. Pen holes up in her home, which miraculously survived the waves and where her father mysteriously had the forethought to supply it with several months worth of canned good and bottled water, too afraid to venture out and see what's left of the world. Only when a group of men break into her home, and one unexpectantly helps her to escape, does she start her incredible journey.

Whereas Odysseus' story begins with him lost and searching for a way home to his family, Pen abandons her home in search of her lost family, whom she believes to have somehow survived. Along the way Pen encounters many of the same trials that Odysseus and his crew encounter: the Cyclops Polyphemus; the Laestrygonian cannibals; the witch godess Circe; the Sirens; and a journey to the Underworld are all included but given a modern spin. And Pen recognizes that her travels are following those of that cunning ancient man's and even reads passages from Homer's work as the book progresses.

But besides the connections to that classical text, what I loved most about Love in the Time of Global Warming are the characters. If you recognize he name Penelope it's because that was the name of Odysseus' wife, who waited ten long years for him to come home. But in Block's version, our hero is a heroine who shares the same name. And playing with gender roles is a theme found throughout Love in the Time of Global Warming. We meet Hex, the love interest (and trust me he is definitely a swoony one), Ez, and Ash (among others), who become Pen's "crew" and travel along beside her on her quest to find her family. I don't want to spoil anything but I will tell you that this book has a very strong LGBT theme running throughout it. Guys, I absolutely LOVED that Block chose to add this to her story. She didn't have to. It's not something that is found in The Odyssey per se. But it is written into this book, a Young Adult book, and by doing so it elevates the story from a tale of adventure and a quest for family and home, to a voyage of self discovery, and a quest for personal identity. THIS is what makes Love in the Time of Global Warming such a great story and what makes this more than just a re-telling or modern day spin. By adding in in these original elements, Francesca Lia Block made this story her own.

I don't want to talk too much more about the plot or the characters but just say that all of them are magical in their own right and have a fairy tale (a decidedly modern day fairy tale) quality to them. You will just have to check them out for yourself to see what I mean:) And I hope that you do. At 240 pages this book is a quick read, but one that I think will stay with you for a long time. It's a standalone and does end on a very hopeful note that made me smile. Once again I'm so glad that I decided to pick this book up. It's definitely renewed my interest in this unique author and her writing and has made me want to go check out some of her books (like The Elementals and Wasteland) that I have been putting off reading. This one releases in August. Give it a look.
Profile Image for Lauren.
378 reviews14 followers
September 7, 2016
This book is a wild but brilliant combination of mythology, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, and magical realism with a colorful cast of characters, Love in the Time of Global Warming is a strange & unique story, a very loose retelling of Homer's The Odyssey.

I know this book won't be for everyone, You have to be a certain type of reader in order to enjoy Francesca Lia Block's works. It definitely requires a certain amount acceptance when it comes to the unbelievable & extraordinary. This book may come across as an incomprehensible mess but to me this is a brilliant, strange & utterly unique tale. I really just love this woman's imagination! She writes beautifully & her books always manage to surprise me.

In a nod to the woman in Homer's work, our heroine's name is Penelope (Pen) who discovers much about herself on her quest to find her family. On her journey she meets an array of characters all of whom are uniquely special in their own way. They are all troubled, Hex, Ash & Ez - & while there are some very tender moments, there is no denying that there was a lot of insta-love going on.

As I got closer towards the end of the story I didn't want to stop reading about Pen's journey and wished the book could have been longer.

My favorite moment in the book would have to be when Hex told Pen that he loved her.
I swear those words could have come straight from my mouth:
“Baby, I love you. Pen... More then I love the color black. More than I love cigarettes, more than I love books. Even music."
And then Pen responded with:
"More than food. More than art or stories. More than words...”

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Profile Image for Gabe Novoa.
Author 6 books689 followers
February 7, 2017
So first of all, I think it helped going in knowing that this book would be weird. That was something I saw repeated over and over from reviewers—that they enjoyed it, but it was strange. I agree this is a strange one; the writing and events and the way it all blends together was very dreamlike. There's some really gorgeous, lyrical imagery, obvious Odyssey parallels (that the characters are aware of and comment on), and even the characters themselves have a dreamy, ephemeral-type quality to them.

And you know? I liked it. The lyrical, imagery-heavy writing reminded me a bit of Elliot Finley Wake's style (except, you know, YA), and it was great to see a diverse cast in a post-apocalyptic YA, from the protagonist Pen, who is bi, to the love interest , to their two other companions who also turn out to be queer guys, it was really fun to read.

My only critique is the ending felt a little too...neat, I suppose. Things came together easy after the main confrontation, which is okay, but it felt a teensie bit anti-climatic to me. That said, I still really enjoyed it overall, from the adventure-y plot, to the Odyssey-like mythology, and the lyrical writing, I definitely recommend Love in the Time of Global Warming for a quick, adventurous read with a cast you won't easily forget.

Diversity note: As mentioned in the review, Pen, the protagonist is bisexual, the love interest, one of the two companions is a gay Black boy, and the other is a boy who likes boys (though I'm not sure if he's gay, bi, pan, etc.).
Profile Image for Gabriela Kozhuharova.
Author 25 books117 followers
January 12, 2017
„Любов по време на глобално затопляне“ и видения по време на апокалипсис: http://azcheta.com/lyubov-po-vreme-na...

Франческа Лия Блок сякаш е пуснала свое видение на свобода, а то е взело, че се е приютило в книга. Истината е, че за да се насладите на историята, в ума си трябва да издигнете бент, който да възпира здравия разум, логиката и недоумението. Четенето на „Любов по време на глобално затопляне“ изисква да останете насаме с въображението си и да възприемате книгата изцяло чрез сетивата си. Тя е много красиво написана, психеделична във фантазиите си и се крепи върху емоциите на героите и авторката си. Боя се, че ако не я четете с тази нагласа, ще останете доста разочаровани от сюжета и поднасянето на някои от важните му разкрития.

Романът на Блок определено породи противоречиви емоции у мен, но харесвам смелостта на издателство „Екслибрис“, които имат интересна селекция и винаги подбират по-различни и необичайни заглавия. „Любов по време на глобално затопляне“ e идеален пример – ще допадне на малък и специфичен кръг читатели, въпреки примамливата си корица и прекрасното оформление, но пък подозирам, че тези, които увлече, ще я заобичат особено силно заради странностите и топлотата ѝ. Мен лично потопи в интересно среднощно настроение и съм любопитна какво ще усетя при повторен прочит.
Profile Image for Heather - hturningpages.
388 reviews95 followers
June 18, 2017
I really like the premise of a retelling of the Odyssey in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. I also really appreciated that all the main characters in this story have diverse sexual orientations that span a pretty wide range of LGBTQ, which is super uncommon in YA lit. This promps some insightful conversations in the book about acceptance and self love that were really great.

All that being said, the plot was pretty hard to follow. Maybe it was because, being told from first person, when said person jumps back and forth from past reflection and current events, and happens to black out from time to time for no explained reason, it makes the series events jumbled and confusing. Not wanting to give too many spoilers here, but there is a lot of crazy stuff going on, giants and goddesses and magical powers, and the origin and operating rules of each of these were mostly not explained. I am usually fine with a little mystery, especially when there is a sequel, but by the end I was left with a lot of questions about their world and especially the powers, and for the things that were explained there was just no tension or build up. Most of the "climax" of the book was summed up really quickly in a nonchalant and very unsatisfying way.

So I likely won't joining Pen, Hex, Ash and Ez (also, do we have to abbreviate every single name??) in book two, sorry guys!
Profile Image for Whisperer of stories.
20 reviews22 followers
June 3, 2022
Стигнах някъде до към 30-та страница и реших,че спирам. Просто не мога да си го причиня тва нещо.😂
Отдавна реших,че ще престана да си губя времето с безсмислици. Насила хубост не става,нали?
Profile Image for Warren-Newport Public Library.
796 reviews31 followers
April 21, 2014
Hmm... I am conflicted with how I am to review this book. I picked up "Love in the Time of Global Warming" because it was recently nominated as one of YALSA's Teen's Top Ten books from 2013. After having read it, I can see why it would have been nominated, but I was disappointed.

Penelope (who goes by Pen) is a survivor of an "Earth Shaker" apocalypse that hits the world suddenly. She holes up in her house, wondering how she will survive, hoping beyond hope that somehow her family is still alive, and ruminating over life and death. This peaceful/chaotic existence is disturbed when she encounters a group of looters who come to raid her house. One of the men randomly tells her to escape and gives her the keys to their VW van and says there's a map inside that she must follow to reach safety. She takes the keys and runs, encountering the most bizarre, dream-like situations, people, and places along the way. She believes that this map will help her find what's left of her family.

This book is an obvious "retelling" of Homer's "The Odyssey." I LOVED The Odyssey, so I thought I would really get into this storyline. However, I was constantly reminded that this book was meant for high schoolers because the author consistently refers to the text itself in a way that made me feel like she was trying to teach The Odyssey instead of weave it throughout her novel. She refers to the source material WAY too much- sometimes stating, "...just like in The Odyssey!" I didn't like that.

Additionally, Francesca Lia Block makes references to a different artist or painting on just about every page. As someone who is pretty familiar with art, I thought it contributed to the surreal, dreamlike landscape of her novel. However, I can see this being really distracting to someone who has never seen Francisco de Goya's "Saturn Eating His Son," or "The Colossus," or the many other references she makes. It seemed as though art was a reoccurring theme throughout this novel; the author seemed to be juxtaposing the chaotic, messy, torn-up world with the controlled chaos and beauty that we see in paintings and art. I actually liked that about this novel. But by the end, I felt as though that had been abandoned somewhere along the way.

My last beef with this book has to do with the lgbtq characters. Let me be clear- I appreciate these characters in literature and YA. However, in Block's novel, she portrays them like cliched character tropes. They are all troubled and need rescuing and didn't seem like real people to me. I felt like they were tragic individuals just to send a message. I didn't like that she used them as social commentaries, not as the real people they are.

What I did like- I liked the artistic, stylized world-building within this novel. I felt like I was being led through a Salvador Dali painting with melting clocks, roses hovering in the desert, etc. It was truly beautiful. This book is incredibly dreamlike; the situations Pen encounters can only be found in the most bizarre dreams. And while I believe the artistic references might seem inconsequential to some readers, I like that this book attempts to expose them to this artistic and literary world that the main character lives in. (Elise)
Profile Image for Chiara.
870 reviews220 followers
August 5, 2016
This is one of those times where my logical brain pisses me off. For some reason, the blurb of this book made me think that perhaps the fantastical goings on in Love in the Time of Global Warming were not real – that they were a story Pen was telling. And I was wrong. But I couldn’t accept this fact until halfway through reading, and by then my enjoyment of the story had been greatly reduced because I had spent so much time going WTF? Is this real OR NOT? So if you think it’s not: it is. IT FREAKING IS, OKAY?

So, once I got over myself, I was able to really enjoy Love in the Time of Global Warming. Like, four star enjoy it. But I won’t get into my irritation at myself again. But yeah, it was lovely once I realised that everything that was happening was happening.

All of Block’s other books that I have read haven’t really followed a true storyline (more like prose, I suppose), but Love in the Time of Global Warming is told like a normal book (albeit with flashbacks). And I really liked her style; it was very easy to read and yet quite lovely with its prose-like qualities in places, as well.

The four main characters in this book are pretty adorable, not gonna lie. And they’re all diverse, which just makes everything about them amazing. Pen was not a very vivid character to me, but I liked her nonetheless. My favourite aspect of her character was her love for Hex, and her complete acceptance of who he was. Which brings me to Hex. I just. I cannot even with Hex. I absolutely adored him from the moment he stepped onto the page. He’s freaking divine in so many ways, and I just. *nods furiously* HEX. Ash and Ez were pretty likeable, too. Although I must say I likes Ash a little better than Ez. I always like the musicians. >.>

There wasn’t a lot of urgency to the plot, but I wasn’t averse to that. I kind of wish I knew The Odyssey a little better because everything was new to me in Love in the Time of Global Warming, and I’m sure that knowing the parallels between the two texts would have made for an even more enjoyable read but hey. I haven’t picked up an ancient book, and I may never.

I was really happy with the ending of Love in the Time of Global Warming, and I am a little surprised that there is a sequel, since I think it could have been left as a pretty agreeable standalone novel. But I can see that there was room for a sequel, so that relationships would be explored even more, as well as the whole “end of the earth�� theme. I haven’t heard very good things about the sequel, but I’m willing to give it a try anyway. Even if only to revisit one of my all time favourite characters in any book ever (HEXXXX).

© 2015, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.
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689 reviews95 followers
February 7, 2018
I'm about to pay Love in the Time of Global Warming one of the highest compliments I can pay a Young Adult novel: I feel like I need to read it a second time to fully appreciate what Francesca Lia Block has accomplished. I mean, sure, there are some books that you read and you're like, "I didn't really get that" (see, for instance, Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow). I got this book, but it's so nuanced, the narrative working in layers to tell both a straightforward narrative and an allegory about Homer's The Odyssey, that I know I missed some things. That's a testament to just how good this genre can be, and it's more evidence that people who dismiss Young Adult Lit as mere kids' stuff are missing the point.

Penelope (or Pen, as she prefers to be called) is, as far as she knows, the only member of her family left alive after a global apocalypse. At the start of the book she's hiding out in house, subsisting on a bare minimum of food and water that her protective quasi-survivalist parents had the foresight to stockpile, until intruders drive her from her home and on a quest for her parents. On the way she encounters characters and experiences adventures that readers of The Odyssey will certainly remember. There's a cyclops and giants and sirens and lotus eaters, and Pen accumulates companions (trans boy Hex, artist Ez, and musician Ash) along the way. It's episodic in nature, Pen moving from fraught encounter to fraught encounter in her quest for her family.

Even though it's certainly an adventure – there are close calls and near-death experiences as befits all good quests – it's really a book about home, and how we often find it in places (and with people) we never expected. It's also a book about figuring out who you are, and in that way Love in... is a sensitive exploration of a young girl coming to grips with her homosexuality and the realization that it's a worse crime not to love than to love the person that close-minded members of society have deemed as "wrong." And, as I mentioned, because of the layered narrative (I didn't even touch on how there are flashbacks and stories within stories), it almost demands a second reading. Highly recommended.
Author 5 books588 followers
April 25, 2014
Magic realism is like free verse: it looks deceptively easy when it's done well, and too many writers think it means you can do whatever you want to on the page.

Francesca Lia Block has succeeded in this medium before, at least in my opinion. I know they're cornball and over-the-top, but I do love Weetzie Bat and Witch Baby.

I keep trying to love other novels by Block, and it keeps mostly not happening.

There are some beautiful moments in this book, such as this reflection by Pen, the narrator:

Why are we here -- just us and no one else? Is this salvation or the worst of punishments?


I try to make soothing sounds but I'm thinking of my own family -- what they thought of when they saw the wave coming, terror like being held in a Giant's palm -- and it's hard to be of comfort.

But for the most part, this book is a hot mess.

It starts off with the compelling story of a girl named Penelope (Pen for short) who's the sole survivor in her family after a global catastrophe. She's thinking back to how things were before. The reader is grounded in a very real girl's life. Pen feels guilty for not being nicer to her family before -- for allowing ordinary teenage angst to make her surly and snarly, when she knows now she should have appreciated what she had when she had it. Now she's alone, and supplies are running low.

She's then driven out of the safety of her home by a threat that is, again, convincing: macho shithead men, fellow survivors, who are looking for supplies and female companionship.

So we have a sympathetic character in a situation we'd like to learn more about.

And then everything goes to hell, writing-wise, because the reason the world ended is so it can reenact The Odyssey for a California teenager and a few friends she picks up along the way.

That's right. Billions of people died for that.

Somebody could make that premise work. So far as I'm concerned, Block didn't.

Now I'm off to tackle the rest of my "to-read" list. Wish me luck.
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