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The Book of Joan

3.04  ·  Rating details ·  5,188 ratings  ·  1,070 reviews
In the near future, world wars have transformed the earth into a battleground. Fleeing the unending violence and the planet’s now-radioactive surface, humans have regrouped to a mysterious platform known as CIEL, hovering over their erstwhile home. The changed world has turned evolution on its head: the surviving humans have become sexless, hairless pale-white creatures fl ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Harper
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Lynetta To warn people that we must take care of the earth and each other. If we are at war all the time the earth will be ruined.

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Average rating 3.04  · 
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 ·  5,188 ratings  ·  1,070 reviews

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May 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
I loathed this book. There were brief enticing moments of rich writing, smothered in a failed attempt to create a masterpiece and a world vision that just did not coalesce for me. I particularly could not stomach the Christine/Trinculo/Jean de Men story, with its horribly arrogant tone (rich hairless sadists with stupid names trapped in a slave-based space colony practicing body scarification, torture, dismemberment, sexualized asexuality, all with a de-gendered waxen pallor and all in atonement ...more
Lala BooksandLala
Apr 21, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
Read for an Aries inspired vlog ...more
Samantha (AK)
Jun 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
I never thought I'd be in a position to give a 1-star review to a book I actually bothered to finish, but here we are.

Starting with the good: ...the writing was occasionally pretty.

That's it. And, frankly, the prettiness was severely inhibited by the attempt to be profound with the actual content.

Now for the bad: ...oh boy, where do I even begin?

Do I start with the premise? The sudden devolution of humanity into hairless white androgynes obsessed with their own self-mutilation? This sexless soci
Kevin Kelsey
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
Posted at

What exactly is atmosphere in fiction? For me, it’s the specific headspace a story creates as I read and process it. Reading The Book of Joan, that headspace became an ocean of calm reflection, concealing currents of boiling anger just below its surface. I think of it as the literary equivalent of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, an album I like to describe as anxiously calm.

In the future, our Earth is ravaged—torn apart through warfare and ecological collapse. The most affluent
Julie Christine
In August 2015 I participated in a weekend writing workshop with Lidia Yuknavitch, an experience I chronicled here A Weekend with Lidia. At a reading the evening after our first day together, Lidia told the crowd she was working on a novel about Joan of Arc. Lidia + historical fiction didn't compute for me, but I'm willing to follow her anywhere, so I trusted her version of Joan's legend would be something quite apart from cloaks and swords and dastardly priests.

There were hints along the pre-r
Book Riot Community
Yuknavitch’s novel is an ultra-feminist, gender-bending acid trip. Her Joan is the hero of our speculative future. This book falls under the category of Dystopian fiction, but I’m not so sure. It was written before our current president was elected, and its antagonist is a psychotic celebrity named Jean de Man. Sound eerily familiar? If The Handmaid’s Tale is an enraged scream, The Book of Joan is a tortured howl. The crimes against women in this imagined future are horrifying beyond belief. Adm ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I still don't know what to make of this dystopian sci-fi novel. It's a far-flung, imagined future that honors a storied past invoking Joan of Arc and medieval feminist Christine de Pizan (I had to look it up) I know nothing beyond the grade school basics when it comes to Joan of Arc but it didn't impede my enjoyment of the book at all.

This thing is bloody, violent, sexually charged and angry without being overly academic. The story is challenging to say the least, but fiercely compelling. It's c
Jenny (Reading Envy)
"Silent skinsongs.
That's all we are."

After Earth has been destroyed, humanity is trying to survive in genetically modified forms in the nearby universe. The future species is occupied with trying to find ways to reproduce - the ability has been lost and they are dwindling. Their stories intertwine with the girl who caused the revolution and destruction in the first place, and may be enough of a force to start another. Joan of Arc? Somewhat.

There are some scenes of violence to women that I felt
This book rates a solid "meh." I know many love it, and to each their own, but I found it too removed from real emotion to be enticing. Most of the characters felt shallow, and while I really loved the potential in Trinculo I felt like this was never fully fleshed out.

And then there was the crass sexuality. I know, I'm sure it was meant to be blunt, to be shocking maybe, but ultimately it was just... obtuse. Too many sewn-up c**ts, shriveled penises, flattened boobs. Seems like for that to happ
Timothy Urges
Jun 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Concept > Execution

Several decent ideas can be found in The Book of Joan, but nothing holds the book together. I like the technological aspects, especially the concept of “skylines”—umbilical cords connecting dead Earth to a failing-to-thrive space station. But that’s about it.

The prose feels YA, the content is definitely not. Every emotion results in a physical reaction, and that gets old after the first occurrence.

This is an exploration of eco-feminism dealing with sex, violence, and gender
MJ Nicholls
Lidia Yuknavitch is best known for boiling her novel in noodles with Raymond Federman (footage now erased from the internet) during her years as a FC2 stablemate. Later, she wrote this post-apocalyptic retwisting of the Joan d’Arc story set in a floating space colony filled with agender freaks who tattoo narratives onto their bodies as the last remaining art form. Coming from a background in unconventional fiction, Yuknavitch brings stylistically explosive prose to the science-fiction / historic ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it it was ok

Copies of Lidia Yuknavitch's post-apocalyptic dystopian novel The Book of Joan must be flying off the shelves. The reviews have been raves. It's been called a "dizzying, dystopian genre mash-up" and, in a New York Times Book Review cover story, "brilliant" and "incendiary." So why isn't it good? The novel's premise is pretty intriguing. Earth's sole survivors, all affluent and upper class, are floating around in space on a craft called CIEL. They can see Earth off in the distance, no longer a be

B.R. Sanders
Notes on Diversity/Inclusion:
The Book of Joan seems to have a very complicated relationship to marginalization and oppression, and it doesn't seem to realize it. This is a book that is trying to say something about the nested issues of gender oppression and environmentalism, but because the story takes place on a space station, and because there are issues of access getting to that space station, the cast is largely wealthy and largely (literally) White.

This is a book full of very strange contra
My first thought upon finishing The Book of Joan was the question of what I just read. My second thought was that this was one of those books where I probably should have DNF’d it. I continue to read stories in the perpetual hope that they will improve or that an ending will buoy the entire novel. In this case, I hoped the ending would coalesce the disparate stories into one cohesive unit and improve my understanding; spoiler alert – it did not.

There is so much promise within The Book of Joan wh
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
lidia yuknavitch is a genius. she is also an artist. it's not easy to be an intellectual genius and a genius artist. the outcome, typically, is difficult, unwieldy books, books like (someone else said this) some of Doris Lessing's books, or (this is me) Octavia Butler's books, or Ursula K Le Guin's. what these four titans have in common is a tremendous understanding of things, a super duper clarity of vision, and the gift of magical language. but, you see, when you cram language with difficult i ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
My feelings for the book went up and down as I read - by page 2 I was thrilled by the language (especially in comparison to the book I read just before it, The Three-Body Problem), by page 50 I was so physically repulsed by the grotesque humans on CIEL that I had to force myself to continue, and by the end of the book I was astounded by its intellectual depth. At least I suspect it is very deep - certainly deeper than my mind can go on its own. Some GR readers have talked about the need to know ...more
Eric Anderson
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think some of the greatest feminist dystopian fiction includes Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, Angela Carter’s “The Passion of New Eve”, Sandra Newman’s “The Country of Ice Cream Star” and Naomi Alderman’s “The Power”. They don’t just speculate about terrifying ways that humanity can go wrong for women, but also powerfully comment upon the continued subjugation of women today. Lidia Yuknavitch has created an utterly original and wildly imaginative take on this narrative in her new novel “The B ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio, 2018
Ugh. I hated this and only “finished” in a very desultory inattentive way. The initial (gruesome) premise - that in a near future dystopia people have abandoned conventional text for texts written on their flesh through burning - never really gets off the ground. Similarly, the book’s intertwined “retellings” of Joan of Arc and Christine de Pisan/Jean de Meune are both overwhelmed by their antecedents and extremely difficult to make sense of, at least for me (I didn't know much about dePisan/deM ...more
Vincent Scarpa
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I mean, how can you talk about Lidia Yuknavitch and not be reductive? She's irreducible. That's the whole thing. No one writes how she does, and so few write why she does. I think she's a living genius, and reading her work is whatever the opposite of impoverishing is. I was (and still remain) so enamored by her novel The Small Backs of Children that I went into The Book of Joan telling myself, "It's totally all right if it doesn't catapult you to the same soul/mind altitude that TSBOC did, beca ...more
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a 4.5 read for me.

My thoughts:
Brilliant, unflinching, imaginative and scathing.
These were the words that came to mind when I finished Yuknavitch’s literary tale of the reimagining of Joan of Arc set in the near future.
This multilayered tale with a feminist bent and where the past is the present of the future appealed, intrigued and provoked me in that this book was always in my mind whenever I had to put it down for other life commitments.
This book exposed me to the concept of “corporea
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lidia Yuknavitch's post-apocalyptic retelling of Joan of Arc's story is flat-out brilliant. The Earth is decimated and the only possibility of life is on the hovering stations suspended above the barren landscape. The stations are highly patrolled and the inhabitants are continuously watched; is this a life worth living? But, despite its ruin, there are two women left on the Earth; Joan and Leone.

Exploring female relationships to each other, to men, and to their own bodies, Yuknavitch's tale is
Andy Pronti
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Corporeal: of or relating to a persons body, especially as opposed to their spirit.

Each novel I read by Lidia Yuknavitch is some how, even better than the last. I had to pace myself while reading, as to savor it. The Book of Joan is dystopian unlike anything I've read before. Beautifully written and full of riveting action. I'll definitely be buying the hardcover when it comes out in April, and re-reading this masterpiece. Thanks to HarperCollins for the E- galley.
Apr 20, 2017 added it
Shelves: apocalypse
Startling and strange. Not really sure how to rate it so here are some striking passages:

Two things have always ruptured up and through hegemony: art and bodies. That is how art has preserved its toehold in our universe. Where there was poverty, there was also a painting someone stared at until it filled them with grateful tears. Where there was genocide, there was a song that refused to quiet. Where a planet was forsaken, there was someone telling a story with their last breath, and someone els
Claire Fuller
Feb 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant novel from Lidia Yuknavitch. Yuknavitch is at the forefront of feminist writing. She can explore the complex relationship women have with their bodies like no other. Her dual protagonists have a strength and purpose that is inspiring and heartbreaking. Given our current political climate, this book is incredibly timely and eerily prescient. Yuknavitch's corporeal writing is a marvel.
Thank you HarperCollins and Edelweiss for the ARC.
Bob Brinkmeyer
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I will not even try to summarize this post-apocalyptic novel except to sketch out the barest of details. It’s 2049 and the earth is all but uninhabitable following a series of wars for the dwindling resources and the resulting eco-catastrophes. Most of those who survived now live in a space colony—CIEL—orbiting the earth. Their bodies are devolving, becoming pale white and virtually indistinguishable, their genitalia atrophying and disappearing. They face extinction. They are ruled over by sadis ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I loved the idea of this novel much more than the execution. The Book of Joan is at times chilling and unique in its portrayal of a post-apocalyptic earth, but I found the story became too convoluted as it progressed. I know a major part of the novel was meant to be commentary on the importance of the arts in maintaining true humanity and in our current political nightmare, this was a rather fitting aspect of a frightening future. Unfortunately, Yuknavitch's hints of Shakespearean dramatic comed ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reminded me a bit of Kameron Hurley's short story "The Corpse Archives". Very good ~literary~ sci-fi. Good timing with the Handmaid's Tale miniseries releasing in March and probably an upswing in readership for this kind of thing.

All that said, I did like it!
Greg Zimmerman
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Writing crackles. Sharp as hell. My first time reading Yuknavitch. Didn't love the book. Love how she writes. ...more
Jalen NeSmith
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Absolutely revolting. Highly recommend.
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Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the National Bestselling novels The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children, winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award's Ken Kesey Award for Fiction as well as the Reader's Choice Award, and the novel Dora: A Headcase, Her widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water was a finalist for a PEN Center USA award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award an ...more

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