What I like most about this book, and about Love in the Time of Global Warming, are the way she evokes classical epic, not just by name dropping, butWhat I like most about this book, and about Love in the Time of Global Warming, are the way she evokes classical epic, not just by name dropping, but by writing prose that evokes he ancient epics. When she writes about characters sitting down to a meal after their private safe world has been invaded, you can hear the echoes of Homer and Virgil, albeit updated with modern appliances: "Ez takes a ration of almonds from our stand and roasts apples on the hibachi stove for breakfast. After we've eaten and fed Argos(the dog) we all gather in the living room... We try to stay busy with our morning mediation, and yoga class, our reading and drawing and repairs-Im mending some shirts and Venice is attempting to fix a broken chair, but its like we can't really concentrate. Hex has taken his sword down from the wall above our bed and every so often he reaches for it as if to reassure himself..."
You can almost hear and see overlaid the image of the battered trojans in book one of the Aeneid: They sit on the shore after the storm at sea, eating, and talking and trying to allay their anxiety about "What the fuck are we gonna do now?"
The book is shot through with not just references to The Aeneid, but as a reference for the characters to work out the rest of their lives in the wake of an apocalypse. Brilliant use of the source material.
But not as engaging as Love in the Time of Global Warming. Too much of the book taken up with the illusion vs reality theme, with too many falshbacks, flash forwards, and dream sequences, and as a result parts of the book dont always feel authentic, or genuine. I get that the main point of the book is that survivor trauma is often about figuring out the real concerns from the general everpresent anxiety that surrounds the sufferer, but i had a hard time staying invested.
I liked several things about this novel: The prose was gorgeous. Risky in a "YA" novel to write so poetically but she made it integral to the main chaI liked several things about this novel: The prose was gorgeous. Risky in a "YA" novel to write so poetically but she made it integral to the main character's perspective on the world(an art student). What would take another writer pages of description she nails in a few sentences, as in this section where the group of survivors are searching for a lost mentor:
"When Tara doesn't return after dark, an agitation possesses me,Hex, Ez, and Ash, turning us into its dancing marionettes. We break up into pairs and walk around the oasis, calling for Tara as if she's just gotten carried away looking for herbs and forgotten about us. "
I also liked the way the author made the Odyssey the subtext while performing some interesting role reversals and gender transfers(Transgender and gay relationships abound in this book, so its definitely for more open minded readers). Of course, loving the classical world like i do any novel where the characters sit around and read the Odyssey to each other is a no brainer. But the novel actually does some complicated intertextual commentary when the Odyssey is directly quoted, instead of just using the Odysseys as a guide to life. However, there are moments when the odyssey becomes too much of a clear reference, and the author loses some points for lack of subtlety.
There were points though whether i was unsure the main character wasn't hallucinating her life in the apocalypse through the lens of the Odyssey. If that was by design then it added a level of tension to the story and made it richer as a result.
The obvious homage to magical realism also made the novel enjoyable. Here she was far more subtle about invoking the influence of Marquez (Love in the Time of the Cholera), and other latin american novelists. The use of the natural world(wondrous in itself if we only stop to look at it) and dream sequences deepened the story and grounded it.