The reviews for this book tend to focus on how sad it is. And it is a sad book, but I don’t find it to be a dreary one. The world of this future is not a hellish landscape, although it can be bleak, but instead has a changed focus. This novel is the story of a girl named Fan who leaves her enclave of B-More, an agricultural and fish-farming conglomerate on the east coast in the middle-distant future. She leaves because her companion, her lover, and as is soon revealed the father of her child has been taken. The reasons for his taking are revealed much later, but she goes out after her. She salts the earth on her way out, poising two tanks of farm-raised fish.
As she leaves, she makes her way up the very stratified society. In this future world same basic structures that exist in our current world still exist except the characteristics of them intensify and the boundaries become more solid. There are the lowest working class, that of places like B-more, where the good of society are produced. There are the Counties, suburban areas with myriad levels of unstable chaos and danger, but incredible amounts of freedom. And there are the charters, established communities for the richest of the rich where perfection of mind, body, and social status still prevail. As Fan goes in search of Reg, she makes her way through these different levels, also discovering the fate of the most capable and talented of B-mores, who tested out their life and made their way into colonies.
There’s a lot going on this novel. It’s written by an incredibly creative and talented writer and the world-building is incredibly detailed and very subtly detailed. We are exposed to little things that tell us a lot. In addition as the novel goes on, the little details that show us how familiar this world is come to light. This isn’t a fallen world made new again, nor is it a destroyed world where chaos reigns. It’s something different altogether–an understanding of logical extensions.
The voice in this novel is also particularly strong. The entire narration has a group or collective voice to it, almost like a Greek chorus, but more so like the collective narrator of “A Rose for Emily” not a voice of conscience, but a voice of diversity in thought, but still limited to information available.
I get that it won’t be for everyone.