Pure Julianna Baggott
This was a book club read, I would never have chosen to read this otherwise. As you know I’m not a fan of YA. Although this has less YA tropes than I feared I did have large issues with it. However didn’t hate it & some of the imagery and ideas were very nice. So perhaps if you’re a YA fan you’ll enjoy it, several of the guys at the book club did. My main issues were with passive characters, a plot that relied on coincidence (and unbelievable contrivance), a very vague grasp of worldbuilding and weak understanding of science. The author seems to only be able to think of one way to put her characters into peril by using the dusts (see below)
In the future (?) there is a pseudo-nuclear war(?) called the detonations (a weirdly awkward word for everyone to call the event) which destroyed all the infrastructure of the cities, apart from “The Dome” and caused changes to the people left outside. Now there are the “pure” who live in the dome and the mutated “wretches” that live outside. The wretches have been scarred and fused to things: some to inanimate objects, our heroine has a dolls head instead of a hand, her grandfather has an electric fan in his throat, others are bonded to animals (one of the characters has birds fused to his back) and others are fused to people forming groupies and yet others are fully fused to the ground forming “dusts”. This grotesquery is, by far, the best thing about the book. When one of the pure escapes the dome everything changes.
Overall – Not for me, but didn’t hate it as much as some YA I’ve read
Godwhale by T. J. Bass
Apparently this guy only wrote two books and this is the sequel to his first one, which I haven’t read. I bought this on the strength of it being an SF Masterworks and the blurb on the back, which made it sound right up my street, plus it was also recommended by Jeff VanderMeer. Covering several thousand years’ worth of history this is a bit of a mess structurally; new characters are thrown into the mix (seemingly at random) throughout the book, even towards the end. There are many lurches in time and sometimes these are confusing plot wise, although to be honest there isn’t much of a plot either. I’ve struggled to think how to summarise. In the future the seas are dead, most of humanity live underground in the hive, mechs farm the land, the Godwhale of the title comes back to life when the seas are re-seeded, the hive comes into conflict with the “Benthics”, outsiders who live under the ocean.
And yet, it’s never dull, it’s full of crazy interesting ideas and I enjoyed it a lot. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. I wish I’d read the first book, as potentially some of the mysteries wouldn’t be so mysterious?
Overall – some structural problems but an interesting read nevertheless