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Memory of Water

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Global warming has changed the world's geography and its politics. Wars are waged over water, and China rules Europe, including the Scandinavian Union, which is occupied by the power state of New Qian. In this far north place, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio is learning to become a tea master like her father, a position that holds great responsibility and great secrets. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that Noria's father tends, which once provided water for her whole village.

But secrets do not stay hidden forever, and after her father's death the army starts watching their town-and Noria. And as water becomes even scarcer, Noria must choose between safety and striking out, between knowledge and kinship.

Imaginative and engaging, lyrical and poignant, Memory of Water is an indelible novel that portrays a future that is all too possible.

263 pages, Paperback

First published January 24, 2012

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Emmi Itäranta

19 books496 followers

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5 stars
1,662 (19%)
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171 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,174 reviews
Profile Image for rameau.
553 reviews187 followers
August 27, 2012
Imagine you’re listening to the radio. A song comes up you’ve never heard before. You don’t know the band, but you like the quiet, melancholic melody. You stop to listen and the more you do, the more you like it. Except, you’re waiting for the song to take flight. You’re waiting for something to happen, something to take the song to the next level and surprise you. It never happens.

That’s what happened to me with this book. I wanted to like it better than I did.

Itäranta writes beautifully, but her story also falters and stumbles on preachiness in the beginning. She uses repetition and a book ending for this small story that—unfortunately—remains small. I didn’t feel like Itäranta made the oppression and horrors of a dry future awful and dejected enough to justify the lie told in the epilogue. I didn’t feel like she’d earned it.

I mentioned the preachiness. It seems to be contagious. Every (other or third) Finnish book that I pick up seems to somehow describe the horrors of natural disasters and a future we as a human race have squandered. That’s fine message to be told, but I don’t appreciate being forced to swallow the utter condemnation of men while turning the pages. After all, these are authors living in today’s world relying on peddling their wares to the very people burying their childrens’ children in plastic tombs if these authors are to be believed.

I love the fact that Finnish and Scandinavian authors in general seem to trust their readers’ intelligence, but I wish they trusted us a bit more. A refrain repeated endlessly is never as effective as a slow realisation coming from within.

If you’ve read the book, you might think my review slightly contradictory, but it’s not. Part of it is criticising the what and a part of it is criticising the how. In both, I was expecting more than I got.

Still, this novel falls on the side of “OK” rather than “bad but didn’t hate it” of my two star rating.
Profile Image for Evie.
711 reviews924 followers
January 22, 2015

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Filled with philosophical themes, existentialism and moments of pure beauty, Memory of Water is a highly original, remarkably intelligent and infuriatingly teasing work of speculative fiction set in a dystopian world.

What we have here is a sad and hopeless world driven to the brink of extinction by its own inhabitants; humans. The global warming caused all the ice to melt, overflowing the oceans. The earth is scorched, the heat is almost unbearable, and the drinking water is almost impossible to get. Those who have access to it, hold all the power. The government is rationing the purified sea water, making sure people get only enough to survive, and executing those desperate enough to dig illegal wells and water pipes.

Memory of a Water tells the story of tea master's daughter, Noria, as she is charged with keeping a life-changing secret. A secret of a hidden fresh water spring, guarded by generations of tea masters.

The setting, the customs and the unique Scandinavian atmosphere make this story feel exotic and fresh. The characters - oddly calm and focused in times of such desperation and thirst - surprise the reader with their coldly calculated decisions and peaceful acceptance of their fates. The plot line flows lazily like a stream of arctic fresh water - it speeds up rarely, it offers very few twists and instead of smashing into a dam, it flows into the ocean, offering no definite ending or clear conclusion to the story. On top of all that, while this book is supposedly written with teen readers in mind, I would not dare categorize it as YA fiction. It's neighter YA nor adult story, it's simply its own thing. Frankly, I don't believe readers who are used to reading fast-paced, action-packed YA blockbusters will find this book to their taste. It's on the slower, more contemplative side, with no clearly marked boundaries and completely unconventional construction. I don't think I have ever read anything quite like it, but I think fans of Japanese fiction (Haruki Murakami, Yukio Mishima, Abe Kobo) , or, say, Paolo Coelho and José Saramago, will have more luck with it. In other words, it's more of a book for those who appreciate non-commercial, lyrical, meditative part-contemporary, part-SciFi cautionary tales.

Reading Memory of Water was definitely an enriching experience for me. I was drawn to this bleak and yet somehow beautiful world. The gentle and evocative style of the prose and the fascinating tradition of the tea ceremony contrasted with the injustice, the cruelty and the suffering depicted in this story, made for a fascinating read. I am very upset that there will be no sequel, for there are so many questions demanding to be answered, it's almost maddening. And yet, in a way, I understand why Itaranta decided to leave an open ending and so many secrets left undiscovered. In the end, this story is like water itself, "it exists beyond all beginnings and ends".

Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 23 books25.4k followers
May 31, 2019
تحدث هذه القصة في المستقبل، والمستقبل يبدو أكثر بدائية وتخلفًا من الماضي. عندما ينضب الماء العذب كمورد، يذوب الجليد بسبب الاحترار الكوني، ويصبح الماء رديفًا للمال؛ وسيلة للدفع والمقايضة، والمورد الوحيد الذي تتأسس حوله السلطة. فهناك "جرائم ماء"، وأشخاص "ليس لديهم ما يكفي من الماء" وآخرون لديهم "أكثر مما يجب" ومصطلحات أخرى مألوفة.

أحببتُ في الرواية أنها دشنت عالمًا مؤثثا بالتفاصيل من فكرة، فرضية مستقبلية. أحببتُ اللغة؛ كل جملة في هذه الرواية بدت مثل قصيدة، نابضة ومليئة بعصارة المعن��. كان يكفي أن تقلب الكلمة في فمك لكي يتفجر مذاقها.

لنتخيل الآن، بعد آلاف السنوات (ربما أقل؟) فتاة ما تتساءل عنا، نحن الأجداد. تتساءل عما كنا نفعله الآن (في ماضيهم) وعما إذا كنا فكرنا بهم للحظة. والأم تجيبها بأن من الواضح أننا لم نفعل. وجود مكان اسمه "مقبرة البلاستيك" خير دليل على رعونتنا، فنحن نسرف كل يوم في استخدام مواد غير قابلة للتحلل ومؤذية للأرض.

الرواية روحَنَت الماء وغاصت عميقًا في فلسفته، حتى بدت علاقة "نوريا" ابنة معلّم الشاي، بالماء، أشبه بالعلاقة الصوفية، لكنها ليست علاقة بين عبد ورب، بقدر ما هي علاقة بين متأمّل متصوّف، وقوانين الكون التي تحفظ توازن العالم.

هذه الرواية أيضًا تتحدث عن الفساد، وعن حكم العسكر، واحتكار الثروات القليلة، وجرائم التخوين، وعن المقاومة أيضًا.
جميلة جدًا وجديرة بالقراءة.
Profile Image for Ian Mond.
502 reviews76 followers
January 25, 2015
What’s It About

The novel is set years into the future where global warning and rising seas has seen the destruction of cities, the takeover of Europe by China and the scarcity of fresh water.

Noria Kaitio is learning to become a tea master like her father which comes with its own responsibilities. One of which is knowledge of a hidden source of fresh water that used to supply the town but is now kept secret from the military. But for how long…

It’s worth noting that Memory of Water was originally published in Finland in 2012. Emmi Itaranta took on the task of translating her own novel for its English-language publication.

Should I Read It?

Yes. If the gorgeous writing doesn’t pull you in, the compelling story will. Itaranta doesn’t shy away from the moral conundrum Noria faces once she becomes responsible for the spring. Does she keep it secret – and therefore keep it out of the clutches of the military – or does she reveal her secret, on possible pain of death, to support a village that is slowly dying from a lack of purified and desalinated water? This choice, and Noria’s eventual decision provides the novel with a real sense of danger and tension.

And did I mention that the prose is beautiful?

Representative Paragraph

Noria’s father reveals a hidden spring of fresh water…

"Water rushed from inside the rock in strings and threads and strands of shimmer, in enormous sheets that shattered the surface of the pond at the bottom of the cave when they hit it. It twisted around the rocks and curled in spirals and whirls around itself, and churned and danced and unravelled again. The surface trembled under the force of the movement. A narrow stream flowed from the pond towards the shelf of stone that the doorway we had come through was on, then disappeared into the ground under it. I could see something that looked like a white stain on the rock wall above the surface of the water, and another lever in the wall further away. My father urged me on, to the edge of the pond.

‘Try it,’ he said. I dipped my fingers in the water and felt its strength. It moved against my hand like breathing, like an animal, like another person’s skin. It was cold, far colder than anything I was used to. I licked my fingers carefully, like I had been taught to do since I was very young: never drink water you haven’t tasted first. ‘It’s fresh,’ I said. Lantern light folded on his face when he smiled, and then, slowly, the smile ran dry."


I want to make it clear from the outset that I really liked Memory of Water. The writing is beautiful and Noria Kaitio is a likeable and well-rounded character. But I couldn’t help but wonder whether I was allowing Itaranta’s gorgeous, delicate prose to distract me from her hazy, nebulous world building. In particular, while the scarcity of water is blamed on climate change and rising seas, it’s not entirely clear how humanity pulled itself from the darkness that was the Twilight Century (the period that bridges the technological past with this post apocalyptic present). There’s also no explanation as to how or why China took over Europe or who they’re currently fighting.

There is the view that the true science fiction novel uses science to drive the narrative and not as window dressing. Post Apocalyptic fiction often struggles with this because the focus is often on the fight for survival rather than explaining how the world ended or more importantly finding a solution through science and engineering. Famously, Cormac McCarthy doesn’t bother to describe what led to the near destruction of humanity in his harrowing novel, The Road. As a result McCarthy’s book is less science and more survival fiction.

While Memory of Water has more science fictional flesh on the bone when compared to The Road, I’m sure there will be those who won’t class it as an SF novel. Justin Landon, in his positive review of the book for Tor.com, acknowledges this:

"… There’s more story to tell in Itäranta’s world, both about the how and why. Without these things it becomes less a science fiction than a literary character study with some odd parameters. Could this have been the story of a girl in desert culture, with no hints at our own imagined future? Most assuredly. Whether that detracts from the novel is a question for each reader to answer. For me, Noria’s journey was satisfying and poignant. Emmi Itäranta’s novel recalls a memory of what’s important, not only to survive, but to actually live."

Like Landon, I was more than satisfied with the journey. But more than that, I don’t think Itaranta has been skimpy with her world building due to a lack of care or a different set of priorities. Rather, holding back on explanations – how did China takeover Europe? What happened during the Twilight Century? – are a feature of the novel, not a bug.

As the book is written in first person, we only know what Noria knows. Living in a secluded village coupled with a military that’s not keen on giving away secrets means that information about the past is hard to find. And it’s not like Noria isn’t interested. Her father’s decision to train her as a tea-master and show Noria the secret of the spring means that she’s more aware of the world around her, and with that awareness comes curiosity and an unwillingness to accept the status quo.

What’s brilliant, though, is how Itaranta tantalises Noria (and the reader) with the truth, with the possibility of learning more, and then pulls it away. For example, Noria’s mother is an academic and when the pressure increases at home – the military encroaching on the property looking for a source of fresh water – she decides to take a job in a University. Noria is offered the option to go with her mother or stay with her father and continue her tea-master studies. In the end she forgoes the possibility of knowledge to maintain the traditions set by her father and those that came before him.
It’s a selfless act.

This selflessness is a recurring theme in the novel. When Noria and Sanja discover a CD in the plastic grave detailing a secret, unsanctioned expedition into the Lost Lands to look for fresh water, both of them are overwhelmed with the need to know more. When the opportunity arises, Noria is prepared to leave her village, leave her responsibilities as the tea-master and protector of the spring and embark on a journey of discovery. And traditionally, we’d expect a character in this type of novel to venture forth, to spend multiple books discovering the secrets of the Twilight Century. However, Noria’s earlier decision to share water with the rest of the village rather than watch them suffer means that ultimately her chance to explore, to add more flesh to the bone, is taken away from her.

This novel is not an example of where the author has scribbled the world building on the back of an envelope. There’s enough evidence within Memory of Water to indicate that Itaranta has a clear idea of what brought about this particular apocalypse. But by holding back these details from Noria and the reader, Itaranta provides us with a book that’s less about the ongoing scarcity of water or the wars that China is fighting and more about Noria’s selfless attempts to keep her community and traditions alive. In the end then, the beautiful prose and the fantastic character work is not a distraction but enhances the power of this fantastic science fiction novel.
451 reviews2,965 followers
December 24, 2014
حراس الماء رواية من أدب الديستوبيا وهو أدب المدينة الفاسدة وهذا النوع يحتوى على الخيال العلمي ومزيج من السوريالية والخرافة ومثاله على ذلك رواية الكاتب البديع جورج أوريل ورواية الواهب للويس لاري ، فهرنهايت 451 لرادبري و مباريات الجوع لكولنز ووكل الروايات آنفة الذكر تعمل على مقاومة سلطة النظام الفاسد والفقر وابطالها شعبيون ينتمون للعامة ..

زمن الرواية هو زمن مستقبلي ومجتمع الرواية غامض نوعا ما البيئة تكونت بعد حالة حرارية معينة استدعت ذوبان القمم الجيليدية وتغير جغرافية الأرض
مشكلة الرواية هي ندرة الماء وهي إشارة مستقبلية لأخطار تهدد البيئة نتيجة لتغيرات المناخ واستهتار الإنسان

بطلة الرواية هي نوريا وهو اسم جميل أن رغبتم بأن توافقونني الرأي يدل على حس وذائقة هذه الكاتبة الجميلة والتي أحسب أن مستقبلا زاهرا ينتظرها في السنوات المقبلة .. أحداث الرواية تجري في مكان ما في الإتحاد الأسكندنافي غير أن طقوس فن مجتمع الشاي ومدارسه مستوحى من اليابان ممايجعلك في حالة من الدهشة لكنها تضع أمامك تفسيرا وحيدا هو هذا الإندماج الذي حدث في زمن ما
ونتج عنه اختفاء أجزاء من العالم فيما يسمى بالأرض المفقودة

محور الرواية هو الماء وأحسب أن رواية يكون فيها الماء منافسا جديرا لأبطالها لهي رواية جديرة بالقراءة الماء يجب أن يكون مشاعا الماء يجب أن يبلغ عنه وأن يكون تحت رعاية العسكر .. وفي مفارقة طريفة حتى الماء يصبح أسيرا ونوريا حارسة الماء لديها أسرارها وكنزها المائي ولديها سانيا وبيت الشاي وتعاليم المعلم.. نوريا التي تشبه كل فتاة مراهقة كل فتاة متمردة نوريا الفتاة الفضولية نوريا رمزا للتطهير كما هي السلطة رمزا للفساد ..

شاعرية هذا النص تليق بالماء تليق بنوريا لغة تتدفق مثل جدول صغير عملت إيمي على استغلال كل ماتبقى من الطبيعة لتعطي لها أصواتا تليق بغرائبية النص خلقت مجتمعا ودولة ونظام عسكري ومستقبلا غيرا مبشرا بل على العكس تماما ويبدو أن نظرة أغلب الأدباء تتشابه تجاه المستقبل تلك النظرة القاتمة والسوداوية وإن كانت فتحت شباكا من الأمل في الختام إلا إنني أميل لمخالفة كل هؤلاء الأدباء وأنظر دائما للمستقبل بعين مليئة بروح التفاؤل :)

يجب أن لا ننسى أن المؤلفة من فلندا والطبيعة تمثل عنصرا هاما تمثل حياة وحياة مهددة بكل ملوثات العصر لذلك وصف الطبيعة جاء يحمل قيمة أخرى لهذه الرواية .. تكتب إيمي أحداثها بهدوء مخيف ذلك الهدوء الذي يجلب لك حالة من الترقب يسبقها رقة الحرف وشفافية اللغة، تزداد القصة تشويقا في نهاية الصفحات الأخيرة تحديدا بعد أن عرفت الصديقة السر وكان مشهد استحمام الفتاتين في الينبوع من أجمل مشاهد النص
كما إن إيمي في جزءها الأخير إزدادت شفافية وشاعرية كلما اقتربت من النهاية كلما إزدادت هدوءا ورقة محببة خاصة ونوريا تكمل القصة وتودع أسرارها في كتاب في إشارة لاتخلو من ذكاء لأهمية الكتاب للأجيال القادمة .. صدقا أحببت في النص أشعار الماء الإحساس البديع بقيمة الكتب وبقيمة الزمن القديم وما يدخره من كنوز للأجيال القادمة لكي تبني عليه حتى وإن قامت على مقبرة من البلاستيك .. قارىء هذا النص فقط سيفهم ماذا أعني

ينبغي الإشارة إلى إن الرواية موجهة لفئة محددة وهي السنوات الأخيرة من عمر المراهقة مع ذلك استمتعت كثيرا بالتجربة الأولى لكاتبة فنلندية
Profile Image for Vilja.
273 reviews63 followers
November 17, 2015
Viimeinkin tämä on luettu. Varmaan vuoden verran olen yrittänyt saada aikaiseksi, mutta parempi myöhään kuin ei milloinkaan. Odotukseni olivat ehkä hiukan liian korkealla, mutta pidin silti lukemastani. Etenkin miljöö ja tunnelma lumosivat ja dystopinen asetelma on kammottavuudessaan uskottava. Romaanin alkupuoli oli mielestäni vahvempi kuin loppupuoli ja koin, että alun hienosti rakennettu jännite ei onnistunut säilymään samanlaisena loppuun asti. Kielestä sen sijaan nautin valtavasti ja Itärannan toinen romaani on ehdottomasti lukulistalla.
Profile Image for Maryam.
696 reviews111 followers
May 18, 2017
it could be such a brilliant book, but unfortunately it wasn't. I enjoyed it though, actually I enjoyed the writing, the era, the environment but the story has too many flaws, secrets, dark holes...

The story set in a dystopian world. Due to global warming all ices are melted and apparently contaminated. Now military control remaining water resources and having any secret well or spring or water pipe is a serious crime.

Noria is daughter of a tea master in a small village. Tea masters are watchers of water and normally the know of hidden springs. Noria is trained to be a tea master herself and everything looks normal until a new military commander set his foot for a Tea ceremony into their house and find the water too fresh to be coming from pipes.

The writing in this book is so beautiful that you want to continue reading and it's such a waste that this good idea, this good writing was weakened by details of the story.

Profile Image for Jim.
Author 93 books2,268 followers
August 11, 2014
Itäranta is a Finnish author, and as I understand it, she wrote the book in both Finnish and in English, and it’s been published in both languages. Speaking as an author, let me tell you, that’s pretty badass.

Here’s the publisher’s summary:

"In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria’s father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander … and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line. Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom."

This book was at times powerful and beautiful and tragic and depressing and triumphant. There’s not a great deal of action. The pace is almost leisurely at times, even as the tension ratchets every higher. Day by day Noira goes about her business, watching helplessly as the military imprison and execute others in the village for water crimes. The waiting builds suspense and fear far more effectively than any series of graphic action or violence would have. There’s also the contrast between the horrors Noira witnesses and the beauty of Itäranta’s writing.

And then there’s the worldbuilding. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic Finland. Rising sea levels and other environmental catastrophes have eliminated most sources of fresh water and a serious, if uneven, regression in technology. We never get the full details about what happened, because Noria — like most people — doesn’t know the truth. She knows only the stories she’s been taught. But over the course of the book, she uncovers bits and pieces…

I’m sure that aspect of the book will come across as preachy to some, and there’s certainly a message here about waste and overconsumption and the environment. But given that we don’t even know the full details of what happened, it felt like a reasonable example of “If this goes on…” to me.

There’s also beauty here. The way Noria contemplates every detail of the tea ceremony, and the ideas and philosophy behind it. I don’t know enough to say whether or not the author’s description is accurate, only that it was beautifully written. There’s love as well. Noria’s relationship with her friend Sanja, who works as a plastic smith (digging up and repairing old plastic for the village) is a powerful source of conflict. While they love one another, the secrets Noria guards and the struggles they both face just to survive would strain any relationship.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,050 followers
August 21, 2015
I read this because it was nominated one month for the Sword and Laser book club but lost to a book I had already read.

There are elements of this novel to like. The combination of Scandinavian and Chinese culture for the society of New Qian was really the best part, especially the section combining the northern lights with the Chinese festivals. Beautiful! Magical!

The theme of water scarcity is frequent these days, although having a teamaster in each village/town/city with the secrets of the water was a new twist.

I felt like much of the writing itself was repetitive, somehow separated from the true emotion of the story. Even in moments that I felt should have great despair, it felt like Noria was floating through life. Strange.

Discussed on Episode 037 of the Reading Envy podcast.
Profile Image for Gabi.
693 reviews120 followers
July 8, 2019
5 stars and more!

Do you know this feeling, when you close a book and all you can think of is 'Perfect!'?
Well this was one of those rare occasions. Every word where it is supposed to be, every sentence masterfully crafted. And to think that I only read the English translation and was told that the Finnish original was even better ... Kudos to the translator!

This book is about a dystopian world, a society after wars. It is about water, the most sought after good. Though melancholic and hopeless at times, the story about a young tea master (this idea alone deserves applaus) is written like said water: always flowing, seeking its way through the cracks and holes of a harsh reality. Every other page I wanted to stop and note a sentence or paragraph.

Absolutely beautiful!
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
August 4, 2014
Blurb comparing a book to Ursula LeGuin? Gets me to read it every time...

Yes, I can see where the comparison came from. It probably reminds me most of the feel of LeGuin's 'Annals of the Western Shore' trilogy. The similarity is not so much in actual content, but in what is dwelled on; the themes and pace.

This will also appeal to those looking for post-apocalyptic YA who are interested in more thoughtful, character-oriented stories instead of just action.

The setting is a dystopian future Scandinavia, which has been under an oppressive Chinese (New Qian, that is) rule for generations. Water is mysteriously scarce, and controlled by the corrupt and brutal military junta. Noria is a young woman who has brought up in the tradition of the tea ceremony, a ritual that helps give peace and stability to people whose lives have too little of those elements. She has a secret. Her family knows the location of a secret fresh water spring. When she is left alone in the world, will she choose to keep her knowledge to herself, even as her friends and neighbors go thirsty?

The themes of secrets, knowledge, sharing and trust run through the story, contributing to a lovely and satisfying tale. No, the author is not as masterful as LeGuin - but few are.

I received a copy of this title through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Much appreciation for the book.
Profile Image for Ieva.
1,017 reviews77 followers
January 20, 2019
Nez kāpēc ilgi atliku izlasīšanu, jo bija tak skaidrs, ka tā būs tieši manā gaumē - gudra, bet viegli lasāma, anti utopija.
Somu autores japāniskās vēsmas (tējas rituālā un citur) mani nepārsteidza, jo, studējot Somijā, vairākkārt dzirdēju no pašiem somiem, cik jocīgi, ka viņu kultūra esot tik līdzīga japāņu. Nu vai patiešām ir, tas ir strīdīgs jautājums, bet saskatīt līdzību bija modē vismaz pirms pāris gadiem, ja tā ver teikt.
Protams, ka darbā par pasauli, kurā pēc naftas kariem dzeramais ūdens kļuvis par retumu, galvenais vēstījums ir par ekoloģiju, par to, ko nodarām pasaulei jau tagad (nu ja nepaliek vien sižeta līmenī, bet te ir grūtu palikt, ja tā apakšdoma ir tik acīmredzama) , taču var aizdomāties arī par to, cik viegli ir sagrozīt vēsturi. Baisākais, ka šis nākotnes scenārijs nav neiespējams.
Kopumā tiešām laba lasāmviela, ko tur daudz.
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
644 reviews79 followers
February 26, 2020
I went into this book blind, knowing nothing about it other than the title which screamed to me “environmental apocalypse”. That wasn’t far off, although I guess it’s more dystopian than apocalyptic. Water resources are limited as one would expect by the title, and access to them is strictly controlled by the military.

Sometimes these types of books feel tedious to me because they tend to have similar themes and plots. I really enjoyed this one, though. There were some gaps in the world-building that I wanted to see defined more clearly, and there were some plot points that were a stretch, but they didn’t hit any of my particular pet peeves. Since I was enjoying the story so much, I was mostly able to overlook them.

This book has the type of writing I imagine many would describe as “beautiful”, or “poetic” maybe, or some such adjective. That isn’t something I really have a proper appreciation for, especially if the writing is so flowery that it’s not clear what the author is trying to convey. That wasn’t the case here, though. The writing was clear and the story was interesting. I also liked the characters and cared about what happened to them, although I didn’t necessarily identify with all their choices.

This is one of those books where the story begins with the almost-end and then goes back and spends the entire book telling about the events that led up to that point. Since the reader has that end in mind the whole time they’re reading the story, I think most people will know what’s going to happen long before it happens. (The following spoiler contains vague reactions to the end but no specific plot details.)

One great thing about this book was that it was very light on romance. There are some implications of one depending on how you read things, but it’s easily overlooked rather than the author hitting you over the head with it like many do. One can read as much or as little into it as they want to. I chose to read more into it than I might have otherwise because it helped me understand

So I guess it wasn’t a perfect book, but I found it easy to pick up and difficult to put down.
Profile Image for Fizzycola.
74 reviews
April 2, 2012
Teemestarin kirja on aivan harvinainen esikoisteos.

Äidinkielen opettajani tapasi sanoa, että "kaunis" on sana, jota ihminen saa kirjoituksissaan käyttää korkeintaan kymmenen kertaa elämässään. Tämän kirjan kohdalla minun on pakko käyttää yksi kiintiöstäni. Kirja on yksinkertaisesti uskomattoman kaunis. Itärannan kieli on vedenkirkasta ja kuulasta, tarinaa kuljetetaan taitavasti kohti väistämätöntä loppua. Kirjan maailma on lisäksi erilaisuudestaan huolimatta todenmakuinen ja sen henkilöt moniulotteisia ja aidon tuntuisia. Voiko sen enempää vaatia esikoisteokselta?

Teemestarin kirja on dystopia, joka tekee lukijaansa lähtemättömän vaikutuksen. Lukekaa, hyvät ihmiset!
Profile Image for Sarah.
731 reviews73 followers
March 5, 2017
This book had truly beautiful prose and I loved that aspect of it. While I didn't get particularly attached to the characters I did enjoy the story. I really did not the heavy handed foreshadowing. Not only did it throw me out of the story, it made the things that happened late in the story lose their punch. It's hard for me to get really excited about an ending that's telegraphed from the start of the book.

The way this is written is beautifully evocative and it suits the feel of the tea ceremonies that happen throughout the book. I just wish I could have loved the story as much as the writing.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
March 8, 2017
Memory of Water is a slow story, a story which takes all the time it needs to unfold. Although it’s post-apocalyptic and dystopian, the focus is more on the emotional journey of the protagonist, who comes to understand her world and her place in it. The background is really fascinating, amalgamating a Finnish setting with Asian tea ceremonies. The prose and the pacing all echo those tea ceremonies: deliberate, considered, every movement relevant and part of the whole.

It’s not about dramatic clashes between armies and civilians, sudden revolutions or dramatic government takeovers. Instead, it’s about surviving day to day, about choosing who you betray, about making your own path despite the constraints around you. It’s a slow dying of thirst, not a brutal death at the hands of strangers. It’s about seeing the world change around you, but so slowly you’re almost lulled into not reacting.

It’s about humans wrecking the world, and then making it hard for other humans to live with the consequences. It’s introspective, slow. The main character might well annoy most readers because of that slow narration and its philosophical bent.

I thought it was gorgeous — and I’m extremely impressed that Itäranta wrote it in both Finnish and English. In English, at least, it’s lyrical and beautiful and carefully crafted in a way that, yes, recalls that theme of the tea ceremony.

Originally posted on my blog.
Profile Image for L.G. Cullens.
Author 2 books75 followers
March 11, 2021
This story is a slow burner in a future climate changed world, with portents dribbled out sparingly.
The writing is accomplished with fleshed out characters, but a bit drawn out in inundating one in thoughts of water, snow and ice of a distant past, heat, and insects; and the descriptive text is verbose more often than not.

Nevertheless, the story held my attention, at my point in life evoking a doleful feeling overall.
Profile Image for David Holmes.
92 reviews9 followers
March 3, 2017
This is a book club read that I would probably never have heard of otherwise. It's a sort of post-apocalypse dystopia, but not quite like any I've read before.

For the first 200 pages, I was enjoying it quite a bit. The setting had some serious plausibility issues, but I was able to overlook them because I was engaged and curious about the world. Unfortunately in the latter half of the book, some things happened that started to really annoy me.

I see that this book is labeled "young adult" by some. I don't read much YA and it's never been clear to me what exactly makes a book "YA", but for the first half of the book I wasn't seeing it here. Now, I'm beginning to think "YA" actually means "young characters who act precisely as stupid as the plot requires of them at any given time".

After the protagonists start making bad decisions in order to carry the plot along, I lost my immersion in the story. When that happened, the problems with plausibility that I had ignored up to that point started to seem more and more ridiculous.

This is a 3-star book that should have been a 4-star book.

Now, for the spoilery rant:

Finally, Noria says about her mother's books:

Many of them spoke of temperatures and seasons and weather, drowned land and oceans that had pushed their shorelines inland, and all of them spoke of water, but the books didn't always agree on everything. I asked my mother once what this meant. She called herself a scientist. If scientists didn't agree with each other, I asked, did this mean that nobody really knew? She thought about this for a while and then said that there were different ways of knowing, and sometimes it was impossible to say which way was the most reliable.

What unscientific baloney.

There are many, many ways of believing, but there are actually very, very few ways of knowing, and precisely one of them is science, and it ONLY way of knowing the things within its magisteria. Scientists understand the difference between what they believe and what they know, and between what they know and what they hypothesize, and between what they hypothesize and what they theorize, and they understand varying degrees of certainty and degrees of probability. When two scientists disagree, it's not because they have competing methods of knowing the truth; it's because they have competing imperfect approximations of the truth. Either one or (almost always) both of them doesn't 100% know, but that doesn't mean they 100% don't know either. Scientists have to live in the gray area between knowing and not knowing, but should never wander into the realm of believing.

I'm not docking points for this paragraph, because it's not an important part of the book and I don't think the things characters say should necessarily be considered views of the author. I think it's important to mention, though, because this is a book about global warming, and Noria's mother's answer will likely be read as a commentary on science today. And it's nonsense.
Profile Image for Lyubov.
363 reviews194 followers
February 27, 2017
"Книгата на чаения майстор" представлява оригинална антиутопия, която преобръща повечето класически похвати на жанра. Изпълнена е с ретроспекции, сериозен вътрешен монолог на главната героиня и ако трябва да я определя с една дума, тя би била камерна.

Сетингът е в бъдещето без да бъде уточнено точно кога, земята е преживяла природен катаклизъм, в който океаните са залели сушата, а после са пресъхнали и човечеството е водило опустошителни нефтени войни. Водата вече е крайно недостатъчна и превърната в скъпоценен ресурс под контрола на армията. Главната героиня Нория е дъщеря на чаен майстор, която трябва да продължи традициите в семейството и да усвои тънкостите на чаената церемония, която продължава да се изпълнява за малцина избрани въпреки глобалния недостиг на вода.

И тук приключват приликите с типичните антиутопични книги. В никакъв случай не очаквайте динамично действие, тежки сблъсъци или мащабен градеж на постапокалиптичния свят. Атмосферата е тиха, вглъбена, някакси много скандинавска. Героите също са сравнително малко, а и така би трябвало да бъде, защото на скромните 250 страници всичко друго би изглеждало претрупано. Откровено казано не съм чела нищо подобно, а имам немалък опит с антиутопиите.

Ако трябва да сравня с нещо цялостното усещане от прочита на книгата, то би било с това на японската литература и в частност с вглъбените, интровертни светове на Мураками. Не го приемайте като буквално сравнение, просто душевността на текста за мен е близка до тази на японския писател. Целият роман се разгръща бавно, изящно и плавно като класическата чаена церемония. И ако не сте готови да потънете в нея или искате да препускате в някакво диво приключение из изсъхналите земи на бъдещето, това не е вашето четиво.

Лично аз харесвам много повече английското заглавие (A Memory of Water) и корица, на която е изобразен синият кръг, изключително важен в контекста на романа. Смятам че българската корица за съжаление ще допринесе "Книгата на чаения майстор" да не стане особено популярна у нас.

Profile Image for Zanda.
179 reviews1 follower
April 24, 2020
Ūdens ir viena no lielākajām mūsu mājas Zemes dāvanām mums visiem, par brīvu. Bet cilvēki paši ar savu rīcību laika gaitā šo dāvanu un privilēģiju ir izkropļojuši.
Somu autore šajā virzienā ir gājusi vēl tālāk - viņas piedāvātajā (ne)tālajā nākotnē tīra dzeramā saldūdens dabiska ieguve tikpat kā jau vairs nav iespējama un ir liels retums.

Man bija grūti ielasīties šādā pasaulē, kur būtībā ir īstenojies viens no vissliktākajiem pasaules scenārijiem, kur Eiropas gaismu nesošās civilizācijas vērtības ir zaudējušas Āzijai, noticis savstarpējs rietumu un austrumu tradīciju neizprotams sajaukums, turklāt tas viss militārās diktatūras un režīma apstākļos, kas būtībā jau ir lēnas beigas visam ... Man to bija grūti pieņemt, lai gan jāatzīst - somu ciema iedzīvotāji, protams, raisīja simpātijas un viņu neapskaužamā stāvokļa līdzjušanu.
Zilā apļa kā simbola izvēle (gan tekstā, gan uz vāka) - manuprāt, ļoti veiksmīga un iederīga jeb savā īstajā vietā.

Nu, ko - atliek tikai godam novērtēt, cik mums šeit - dzīvojošajiem Latvijā - ir ļoti paveicies, ka tīra saldūdens ieguves problēma nav aktuālajos jautājumos, ...jo citur tā jau ir realitāte.
Profile Image for Sarah ~.
699 reviews780 followers
October 31, 2015
حراس الماء

في مستقبل مظلم وتسوده الإضطرابات تدور أحداث رواية الفنلندية ايمي ايتورانتا .
في زمن استنزفت فيه ثروات الأرض واندثرت الحضارة وتلاشت الحدود : فلا وجود للدول بالشكل المتعارف عليه ولا الثقافات ولا للتكنولوجيا ، وعادَ البشر إلى النقطة صفر، إلى بداية السلم .
واستبدلت حروب النفط المعتادة بحروب المياه.
فـ الماء عصب الحياة هو بطل الرواية الأول ، الماء الذي يسيطر عليه النظام حيث يصرف بحصص قليلة لأفراد الشعب ، ذلك لندرة الماء الصالح للشرب .
واعتاد الجميع على سماع " مجرمو مياه" وهو ما يطلق على أولئك الذين ينتهكون القوانين الخاصة بحصص المياه .

بطلة الرواية نوريا ابنة معلم شاي ووالدتها أستاذة جامعية
( معلمو الشاي عادة صينية غارقة في القدم ،وتختص بعادات صنع الشاي وتقديمه )
حالياً أصبحت هي الأخرى معلم شاي : وكل معلم شاي يحتفظ بـ سر متوارث من
المعلم لتلميذه ، ومعلمو الشاي يعتبرون أنفسهم حماة الماء وحراسه .
نوريا رفقة صديقتها سانيا : تكتشفان أسراراً قد تحل لغز "كيفَ وصلَ عالمنا إلى هنا؟ ما الذي حدث حقاً؟" ، أجوبة لـ أسئلة تُنسى أن تسأل في خضم الخوف واليأس .

معلمو الشاي ووصف عاداتهم ، أضاف أصالة وشاعرية للجو العام للرواية .

الرواية مكتوبة بشكل جيد ، ديستوبيا مظلمة بـ نهاية ضعيفة وبمثابة نذير من مستقبل يسوده العطش والعدم .
أرجو أن تترجم أعمال أخرى للكاتبة ايمي ايتورانتا .
Profile Image for Celestine.
526 reviews7 followers
September 24, 2017
Hieno kirja: mielenkiintoinen tarina ja upeaa kieltä. Vaikka tarina ja kieli olivat äärimmäisen nautittavia, samalla ahdistuin lukemastani todella paljon. Tämä tulevaisuus voi olla yksi mahdollinen, enkä ikinä tahtoisi kenenkään joutua kokemaan sitä.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,589 reviews191 followers
July 27, 2017
A fairly quick read, not sure how to rate it yet. I mostly liked the writing but found descriptions a little confusing sometimes, and my attention wandered occasionally.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books696 followers
October 22, 2022
This was lovely. A dystopian clifi that mirrored the discrimination to access to natural resources to the holocaust. Was it heavyhanded? Yes. Was it beautiful? Also yes.


Things to love:

-The prose. Slow and beautiful.

-The contemplation of the past. Thoughtful and layered.

-The friendship. It's so rare to see platonic love as the mover in a story. Here it is!

Things that detracted for me:

-The tea bit. The central element has tea ceremonies as a venerated thing, which is true in some present day cultures. However, it didn't seem to be part of the daily life of townfolks, and it used a LOT of scarce resources. I didn't understand how this fit in with the story when it seemed anathema to it. Again, I get that it was supposed to be about tradition and stewardship of resources, but it didn't contend with its own hypocrisy (in translation, anyway!) so I spent a lot of time wondering about this rather than following the story.

-The catalyst. I mean freakin' DUH. This was painful to watch because it would be foremost in the minds of the characters if it actually happened.

In the end I'm so glad to have read it, and the detractors are smaller than the benefits. Worth a read!
Profile Image for ندىٰ.
227 reviews370 followers
July 22, 2019
نظرة ساحرة على المستقبل. ديستوبيا هادئة جدًا
اختفاء الماء وقيام الحروب لأجله بدلًا من النفط هاجسي الأكبر، من يتخيل أن تغيض الينابيع يومًا، أو، أو تقفر الأراضي والنخيل الذي على الشطآن؟
يختفي الماء، فتنفق الأسماك، وتموت الأعشاب والأشجار، وتتشرد الحيوانات وتموت. اختفاء الماء يجر ورائه سلسلة من الاختفاءات والموت تنتهي بانتهاء الحياة ببساطة.
عندما يكون لدى إنسان منا صالة كبيرة مليئة عن آخرها بالذهب والحلى، لا تتسع للهواء حتى، لن يلتفت للعملات البسيطة التي تتدحرج خارجة كلما فتح الباب.
الحقيقة أننا نجعل العالم مكانًا أسوأ شيئًا فشيئًا، بكل أنانية، نعامل نعم الله الوافرة كأنها حق مستحق، لا تفريط فيه، ولا حق لأحد بوضع حدود له، وليس من واجبنا التفكير في غيرنا ممن سيلحقون بنا أو حتى ممن معنا في الآن في بلاد أقصى أحلامها بئر ماء نظيف، ليس هذا من شأننا. إن رشدنا نحن الاستهلاك فعشرات غيرنا سيهدرون ما كان بإمكاننا إهداره. ليس فيهم محتاج واحد ممن تناشدون إنصافهم. سيان.

"لا جدوى من التفكير بهم، نوريا، هم لم يفكروا بنا، أيضًا"

فلسفة الشاي الرائقة انغمست فيها جدًا، خصوصًا أنه مشروبي الساخن المفضل، سواء الشاي الأحمر أو الأخضر، مع النعناع بالطبع. هذا الاهتمام بالشاي وعادات شربه ترمز في نظري إلى بقاء التقاليد، والقيم، الأشياء تختفي والعالم يتغير، لكن طقوسنا وحضاراتنا وأدياننا وعاداتنا لا يجب أن تتغير، اختفاؤها أو تغيرها يعني وقوع مصيبة، انهيار شيء عظيم، انكسار شيء ما في نفوسنا.
رواية حيَّة ومنعشة جدًا. جعلتني ليومين أشرب الماء ببطئ، وأحاول التلذذ بطعمه العذب قبل أن يذوب في جوفي. يجب أن أحتفي بكل كوب ماء أشربه كما أحتفي بكوب عصير مثلج في يوم حارٍ كهذه الأيام.
الشاي أيضًا ضروري لاكتمال المتعة.
لو وصفت هذه الرواية بشيء حقيقي، سيكون صوت صفير الرياح وهي تحتك بالأغصان، مثالية جدًا لاستعادة الهدوء في حضرة المأساة.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,300 reviews384 followers
July 24, 2021
It's more of a 3.7 star book for me. It's very intruiging and interesting book. But very calm in its story telling, never really dramatic even though its setting and topics discussed. I can't decide if the pace was perfect for the book or if I wanted more speed or similar. But I enjoyed it nevertheless
Profile Image for Ida.
131 reviews7 followers
April 26, 2015
Teemestarin kirja on hieno, vakava romaani. Oloni on nyt jotenkin harras ja hiljainen. En tiedä, mitä sanoisin, miten sanoisin.

Se on ainakin varmaa, että ajattelen vettä useammin kuin aikaisemmin.
Profile Image for Zserb.
11 reviews9 followers
October 10, 2019
Áthozott molyos értékelés
Nehéz objektíven csillagozni valami olyat, amit nagyondenagyondenagyon megszeretett az ember, ugyanakkor látja a hibáit is.
Értékelni sem könnyebb.
Így koherens értékelés helyett inkább kiemelnék belőle olyan random dolgokat, hogy:
– Annyira, de annyira, de annyira jó nekem, hogy magyarként olvashattam ezt a könyvet. Hogy én magyar vagyok, míg az írónő finn, és a kötetet lefordították, de mégis megkaphattam azt az élményt, hogy csak az első száz oldal *után* ébredtem rá arra, hogy a főhősnő legjobb barátja lány. Ezt angolul nem lehet. Finnül lehet, magyarul lehet, és ez a nemhiszemelhogynemszándékos apróság a legnagyobb természetességgel csusszant át a magyar szövegbe. (Ennek ellenére voltak döccenők a fordításban, de mivel nem tudok finnül, így csak azt látom, hogy a magyar mondat ott bizony nem értelmes.)
– Van ebben a könyvben valami olyan csendesség és finomság, amit ritkán társítunk posztapokaliptikus/disztópikus könyvekkel. Pedig kellene.
– Egyszerre tartom jó és… nem feltétlenül annyira jó dolognak azt a feltűnő szándékosságot, amivel az írónő megfogta a tipikus posztapok YA történetek sablonjait, és a maga képére formálta őket. De ezekről egyenként órákat lehetne, úgyhogy…
– Hiszek a könyv szerelmi szálában, ennek ellenére önmagammal is remekül el tudok vitatkozni azon, hogy ott van-e, és ha ott van, akkor mégis *milyen*.

Nyáron olvastam, és utána kilenc alkalommal ajánlottam a könyvet a Molyon.
Ilyeneket írtam róla, hogy:
– "posztapokaliptikus disztópia a mai Finnország hűlt helyén
Egy egyszerű, de nagyon finom és törékeny és szinte észrevétlenül szép kötet.";
– „A világ maga igényes, bár lehetne részletesebb is (mondom ezt úgy, hogy a részletek benne a legjobbak, és az egész 300 oldal sincs úgyhogy nem tudom, hova férne bele több részlet)”
– „Szép könyv és akar valamit mondani, és szerintem ez többé-kevésbé sikerül is neki.”
– „nem pozitív a jövőképe, de igényes, rövid, és a kapcsolatokat tekintve egyáltalán nem szappanopera-jellegű (véges számú emberi kapcsolatnak bontakozik ki a regény folyamán újabb és újabb árnyalata és mélysége), valamint éppen az az egyik erőssége, ahogy a sablonokat használja”

Tényleg órákig tudnék még lelkendezni. Nem teszem.

Azóta annyit változott a helyzet, hogy beszereztem a könyvet, és visszagondolva még inkább szeretem. (Ennek ellenére a csillagozáson nem változtatok.)
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 108 books728 followers
January 29, 2015
This is a lovely, lyrical novel. It takes place long after a water shortage. The reader doesn't see the wars or the chaos, just the new world that has emerged. The traditions and cultures that underpin the new society are at once recognizable and new. The main characters are capable and inquisitive teenagers who never act more heroic than is believable. I loved that the author didn't ever pander to the tropes of current teen lit. There's connection and conflict between characters, but no boy to moon over. There's nothing staged either: no Lottery, no Games, no test that everyone must pass. Just people trying to figure out how to live their lives. Even the antagonists are given complexity and nuance. And I'll return again to the language, which was absolutely delicious.
"…I looked anyway, and wished I hadn't. That was what we did nowadays: tried to avert our gaze from the things that were happening, and failed, and then tried to live on as if we had not seen them. All the while those things stayed with us, made their home under our skin, in the thrumming, dark-red space of the chest, their unbending slivers scratching the soft, wet heart. When I walked on the streets, I could see people carrying these sights within: buried, but not deep enough not to cast an afterthought across their faces, altering them as a slow shift in light."
This will definitely be one of my Norton nominees.
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