David Holmes's Reviews > Memory of Water

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta
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bookshelves: sff-book-club
Read 2 times. Last read February 27, 2017 to 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:

(view spoiler)

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.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 17, 2017 – Shelved
February 17, 2017 – Shelved as: sff-book-club
February 17, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
February 27, 2017 – Started Reading
February 28, 2017 –
14.0% "I can tell this is going to be a depressing book. It's good, though."
March 1, 2017 –
42.0% "I'm having a bit of trouble with the plausibility of this future, and Noria does seem to go on a bit excessively about her feelings about water and her imagination of the past. I'm still quite engaged, though."
March 2, 2017 –
64.0% "I'm still enjoying it."
March 3, 2017 – Finished Reading

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