Cassy's Reviews > The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2010, award-hugo, fiction-scifi-fantasy-paranormal, physical-own, region-elsewhere

I generally visualize a book as a scale. An old fashioned scale like the one Lady Justice holds. On left side, you found the academic merits: concept, structure, significance. On the right side is the entertainment value. My goal is to find a well-balanced book that keeps me turning the page yet leaves me feeling full and even a little cocky. Sometimes I am in the mood for an unbalanced book. But if the scale is fully tilted to the left (supposedly genius but unreadable or boring) or to the right (fast-paced, fluffy nothingness), it is not getting five stars.

This books leans to the left for me. This is a concept book, primarily about gender. And once you substitute snow for sand, it reminds me of Dune with its emphasis on world building and subtle political intrigue. (The back of my book even has a blurb from Frank Herbert.) Le Guin's writing sparks with intelligence. I marked several passages for rereading. And I oftentimes had to take a step back to understand and appreciate a sentence. All of this is very satisfying.

However, the book stumbles on the entertainment aspect. Similar to Dune, the characters are complex and well-presented, but they didn’t elicit any emotional reaction from me. There is a goal and solid action which drives the plot forward, but I picked watching a movie during Christmas break over reading this book several times. (And the movies were not particularly appealing since my whole family had to agree on the selection.)

I would recommend this book to others. It’s thought-provoking and well written. Just beware that it may be a bit of a chore to read. A worthwhile chore, but a chore all the same.
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Reading Progress

December 18, 2010 – Started Reading
December 24, 2010 – Finished Reading
December 29, 2010 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Ryan Someday, I will read this sci-fi canon. At risk of personal injury, I'll admit that Dune didn't wow me the first time I read it. *DUCKS*

message 2: by Cassy (last edited Dec 29, 2010 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cassy It took me a long time to get to this book as well. I bought it well over a year ago.

No need to duck :) How many times have you read Dune? It's not my ultimate favorite. My generous four stars can be partly attributed to my dad - since I started reading in elementary school, he was always saying "one day, you'll be big enough to appreciate Dune..."

Ryan Cassy wrote: "How many times have you read Dune? It's not my ultimate favorite."

I've read Book 1 twice, and I've seen the later film a few times.

message 4: by Leonardo (last edited Dec 31, 2010 03:27PM) (new)

Leonardo Duenas-Osorio I liked your scale analogy, although it is hard to find such books all the time. By the way, which was the compromise movie with your family?

Erik Your scale analogy is how I rate books too. I've read books that are both interesting at the idea level and entertaining at the plot level. After that, my patience for books at either pole diminished considerably.

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