If I made a short list of the books that mattered to me as a teenager in the late 90’s, the Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block would be at the top. I have vivid memories of finding their brightly colored covers in the teen section of the library and checking them out over and over to read her dreamy, magical stories of life in a fantasy LA.
Love in the Time of Global Warming is a much later novel of hers, coming out in 2013. I wondered if it would retain any of Block’s old magic.
The title is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, something is terribly wrong with the world as giant earthquake called the Earth Shaker erupts and huge waves wash over the city. But there are also human-eating giants.
We don’t learn the why of it until much later, but the why is not the point. The point is the journey of teenage Pen, who loses her family when the massive wave washes them away. She learns how to rely on herself and trust her new friends as they hide from giants, escape from witches, and search for her family in the ruins of LA and Las Vegas.
I appreciated elements of the book, such as Pen’s found family of friends, magical abilities, and the centrality of queer characters. Ultimately I didn’t think the book’s reliance on The Odyssey helped it, since it sometimes too closely followed the steps of Odysseus’s journey then abandoned the concept three-fourths of the way through. We simply don’t see what happens during a pivotal scene and have to be told about it afterward, which felt a little cheating after having followed along with Pen and her friends for so long.
Still, it does have Block’s signature style. I wouldn’t add it to my list of favorite Block novels, and likely won’t seek out its sequel, but for fans of her work or dreamy post-apocalyptic YA there are worse ways to spend a few afternoons.