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For a book about interplanetary travel, it's surprising how much the narrative revolves around the tiny mind of Jamie, the main protagonist. The novel is interesting enough until it gradually devolves into a cliched, ridiculous conglomeration of absurd coincidences and women's novel cliches complete with generic stock charectors that appear in countless other novels, TV shows, and movies. All this is capped off by a climax that engages the most absurd cliches of a Marvel movie and an epilogue **spoiler alert***
that seems to have everyone inexplicably drawn to the northern coast of England.
Besides Jamie's endless whining contrasted with moments of silly emotion, the rest of the cast exists solely to serve as therapists and provocateurs for Jamie as she plums the depths of her laundry list of generic complexities without ever learning anything or growing or changing.
Hardly a tear is shed by any character for the untold billions of humans who have died at the hands of a virus, but Jamie sheds plenty of tears for her own bewilderment and loneliness, constantly complaining about the shortcomings of people in her life (as we the readers discover little by little that the people who she seems to have hurt by were by and large lovely people).
Still, the novel kept my interest until about halfway through. And the author certainly has a gift for description and language. It's a pity the plot is so thin, that the main protagonist is so self absorbed, and that the other characters are so paper thin, cliched, and one dimensional.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
…that fails miserably at both.
I read both sci-fi (especially fond of the post-apocalyptic, which this purports to be) and literary fiction so this could have been a winner for me. Instead, it ties with Roanoke Girls for the worst novel I’ve read this year.
When I dislike a book this intensely, I feel like I should give examples to illustrate why it’s so bad, but nobody likes spoilers. Check out some of the reviews on Goodreads if you want concrete examples.
What worked: Good writing.
What didn’t work: Everything else.
The main character, Jamie, is just insufferable. She’s dislikes most people (and 99.9999% of the population is dead) yet is a huge crusader for human rights. She obsesses endlessly over her miscarriage. The world ended. Is this really what someone would think about? Wouldn’t worrying about survival be a little more top of mind? She’s standoffish, *itchy, irrational, prickly, overwrought. What else? She also obsesses about whether or not she love the man she was with for 13 years.
Her behavior toward just about everyone is appalling. She does like the autistic teenager. Because every book must have someone autistic these days. I could forgive her behavior towards the religious fanatic. Though I wish the author had done a better job with the fanatic who was also wholly unlikeable and crazy. So tiresome.
Jamie's reactions to so many things are just ridiculous and unbelievable. I said no spoilers, so here’s an analogous example. You’ve had a dog for years, and then one day you totally freak out at the sight of your dog, kick it, and go running from the room. And somehow someone watching you is just supposed to say, “Oh, normal reaction”?
The happy or not so happy “coincidences” are utterly unrealistic. Couldn’t suspend my disbelief. And some of the decisions that are made are…well, a ten-year-old would have made better decisions.
The author chose to write this with a first person narrator. Very unfortunate since I detested Jamie. If it had been third person, at least the reader could be in someone else’s head too. Instead, there’s endless descriptions of her confusion, spiraling thoughts, etc. etc. Again, so tiresome.
The first 80% of the book was tiresome, really. The last 20% was ok.
Last is the audio narrator, who clearly is not all that familiar with American English accents. Well, I should say the accent she did (for the ship captain) wasn’t bad, but there are so many words where the stress falls on a completely different syllable in British English and American English. So all the mispronunciations pulled me out of the story. Just one more annoying thing.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful