Julie Decker's Reviews > The Wall Around Eden

The Wall Around Eden by Joan Slonczewski
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Isabel's world is very small: in Gwynwood, one of the few human settlements left alive on the planet after a nuclear disaster, everyone wrestles to survive in a grim future that no one truly understands. Both trapped and preserved by airwalls around the community, Isabel and her fellow townspeople educate themselves, go to worship, and try to keep the dying to a minimum despite the fact that everything they eat and everything they are is some level of radioactive. She has many interests and talents--the desire to support her mother in tending the town's sick as well as the dream of going to Sydney for a higher education--but she also has her eyes on a certain man and her mind on deciphering the mystery of the aliens who observe them. As Isabel pursues her various curiosities and alternately endangers herself and her town, she finds her questions getting answered in beautiful and terrible ways.

I had mixed feelings about this book because most of the time I just felt like it was trying to do too many things at once and didn't quite connect with any of them. I didn't personally *enjoy* reading the book and that's a big part of it. I appreciated the unusual worldbuilding and the fact that the aliens were not some monolithic threat or simplistic altruistic race that had a single mystery at its core, and I appreciated that there were so many conflicting opinions and extraordinarily complex human interactions. But it also sort of read like it was trying to relay a thematic message and didn't quite get around to it, and people felt more like the concepts they represented than real people (even though the concepts themselves were quite realistic). I did not like the exposition that continued through the first dozen chapters of the book, and the character interaction consistently left me cold, but I thought it definitely deserves props for originality and refusing to melt into explicit parables (which I was kind of expecting it to do, given the heavy symbolism and the religiousness of so many of the characters).
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Reading Progress

January 26, 2016 – Shelved
January 26, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
February 22, 2016 – Finished Reading

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