Kay's Reviews > An Unkindness of Ghosts

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
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really liked it
Read 2 times. Last read May 5, 2018 to May 25, 2018.

Reread- #RWLChallenge: A book with an intersex main character.

Now that this is out I'm looking at everyone like..."y'all gon' read this or nah?"

Pre-publication review below the cut:


I wanted to give myself to some to fully process “An Unkindness of Ghosts” before writing my review. There is a lot to unpack. Let’s start with how good I think this book is. It has multiple layers that one can spend close to an eternity unpacking. A number of themes jumped out at me while reading this novel. They include, inter alia, friendship, self-actualization, race, class, religion and extremely important for me, gender. “An Unkindness of Ghosts” was one of the few books I know I wanted to re-read even before finishing. This is definitely the type of novel that keeps giving with each read and I can guarantee my copy will be well loved. While reading, there were numerous times when I wished it were a movie. It one that could easily be adapted and I need Hollywood to get off their high horses and just adapt this already!

This book is 100 per cent ambitious, and Solomon excels at it. World building is by far the most stand-out element of the book. The world-building shines through, so much so that one finds themselves being fully immersed in this novel quite quickly. The world of Matilda is extremely well-detailed and it is obvious that the author spent time crafting it. The setting of the book definitely creates a level of cohesion, and it is difficult to image the story in any other setting. The care and detail to world-building is most noticeable in the description of the ship’s wings and the decks. However, while these aspects seemed well thought out without maps to guide the imagery there was a bit of a disconnect. I will check with the final copy to see if this was included.

The pacing was also one of the book’s stand-out elements. There wasn’t much of a lull in any of the sections. The major plot developments occurred at the right times and tied in well with the rest of the story. This was further enhanced by the structure of the novel. While Aster is the main character each section of the book presents insight into her interactions with key supporting characters who also important parts of Aster’s life. This is a great tool for breaking up any monotony as the majority of the story is otherwise told from Aster’s point of view.

The characters are all fully drawn, not one felt like a caricature or stereotype. Each voice was unique and there was no confusion or overlap within these personalities.

The language used by the lower-decks is absolutely beautiful and I could not get enough. In fact, I may have taken away a tiny weeny star because of it. The language variations among the decks is often references but hardly on show within the novel. I would have loved to have seen the language Tolkien style: extremely intense. This is, however, a very personal preference and in absolutely no way detracts from the brilliance of the story. In addition, this book is chock-full of medical jargon, which is extremely appropriate since Aster is in our parlance, a “doctor.”

One nuance that jumped out at me was the misgendering of Flick by The Lieutenant. Flick (and those on their deck) identify as non-binary (more on this further down), however, the Lieutenant constantly refers to Flick using she/her pronouns. The reader is not sure if this is meant to underscore the divergence between the upper and lower decks - viz. a callous disregard for the self of lower-deckers, particularly differences related to culture and gender- or if it is an error. If it is the former, this attenetion to detail further highlights the layering and literary nuances that exist within this novel.

Gender and sexuality are constantly explored, and again extremely layered. All this is done without feeling forced or like a diversity checkbox. Sexuality is painted in a positive light without any slut-shaming. Despite these positive portrayals, I did find the reveal of one a key character to be acephobic and therefor problematic. I am curious to see if this changes in the final copy. In a similar vein, I do enjoy that a number of characters are neuroatypical, while I do find that their portrayal often time borders on ableist, I am able to elaborate further and would happily default to members of this community. The acephobia and ableism are things that I will check against the final copy. While these two concerns were jarring to read in what is otherwise a stellar book, I am hopeful that they have been revised. Pending these changes, An Unkindness of Ghosts is a 4 star read.

In conclusion, An Unkindness of Ghosts was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 and it did not disappoint. This book is one for the ages and I do recommend, pending changes to the final copy.
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Quotes Kay Liked

Rivers Solomon
“I am a boy and a girl and a witch all wrapped into one very strange, flimsy, indecisive body. Do you think my body couldn't decide what it wanted to be?”
Rivers Solomon, An Unkindness of Ghosts


Reading Progress

April 13, 2017 – Shelved
April 13, 2017 – Shelved as: poc-tbr
July 27, 2017 – Started Reading
July 30, 2017 –
15.0% "It's been a while since I've loved characters this much!"
August 3, 2017 –
38.0% ""You're not my intellectual equal. You are my intellectual superior!"


Bullet, bullet!"
August 6, 2017 –
63.0%
August 6, 2017 –
65.0% "Jesus Christ! Melusine is me! This is not a drill!!! It's me! It's me! I can't function anymore."
August 6, 2017 –
65.0% "Jesus Christ!!!!!!!"
August 7, 2017 –
90.0% "Jesus Christ!"
August 19, 2017 – Finished Reading
May 5, 2018 – Started Reading
May 10, 2018 –
page 57
16.24%
May 10, 2018 –
page 83
23.65%
May 22, 2018 –
page 152
43.3%
May 22, 2018 –
page 188
53.56%
May 23, 2018 –
page 206
58.69%
May 23, 2018 –
page 272
77.49%
May 25, 2018 –
page 309
88.03%
May 25, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Jessica For what it's worth, I'm ace and just read the published version and didn't notice acephobia in the narration (it might have still been there in one of the character POVs, but given this society is so anti-lgbtq+ in every way, it didn't stand out to me).


Jane In their first interactions Aster refers to Flick as she/her. Aster has to remind herself that Flick prefers they/them.


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