As is the habit over here (totally copying a Paul Michael Murphy tradition), I want to welcome Davin Malasarn as follower number fourteen. He has two blogs which I recommend highly, The Literary Lab (I've already pointed over there several times in the short time I have been reading it, totally useful writing advice that apparently strikes a chord with me) and The Triplicate, a blog about science. I'm very curious how MIT harnessed the power of the internet to win the Red Balloon Experiment, if they did. I love when art and science meet. And that makes me think of music: Jeremy Messersmith's song "Scientists", The Flaming Lips' "Race for the Prize". And They Might Be Giants have a whole new album about science (of course I haven't heard it yet). There's another song that I can't quite think of right now, blast it. I'm sure there are a million other songs equally as good. Can you think of any?
The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
I read this one aloud to my son. It took me a while to get into it. I was frustrated with the world building, I wanted the story to get started. But probably because I was reading it aloud, we stuck with it and eventually the story took us over. I heard about this book first from Betsy Bird at Fusenews. Who wrote about it with such passion that I put it on my list. I am always looking for books to read aloud. Because that way I can be working on two books at once. And because my son likes it. And because then I read middle grade too.
Frances Hardinge writes a complicated narrative about post colonial fantasy world. And she does it by only showing. I think that is why it took so long to get into. Frances Hardinge went out of her way to introduce Gullstruck Island as a personality itself. Because it had grown with these different cultures and knowledge at cross purposes, and come to know themselves only in this way. My son had at one point noticed that the way the culture was unfair to the Lace (the islands indigenous tribe who are being set up in the story). Everyone ready to believe the worst of them. Hardinge's story displays how sources of things get lost, like a song that shows a way through the mountain, and how with it a whole culture can be misunderstood. At one point in her review Betsy Bird articulated that she waited to write about the book, hoping the right words would come to her. And I have also not known what to say about it. I point you her way if you want to read a better review. The end of the book had my son crying, because although the intense story line is resolved, the world on Gulstruck has totally changed and our heroine(Hathin) has changed with it. There was a lot of loss in the book and not the least of which is life as Hathin knew it. And there is both good and bad to that. The story is complicated in the best ways. Many characters are not truly good or truly bad and even the end is not cut and dried. Wrapping it all up neatly would have done a disservice to Hardinge's portrayal of a complicated situation. When I mentioned this book to My Lovely Librarian Friend, he reminded me of The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap a book he reviewed with similar elements. I've never read this but I felt I should.
As Always (thanks for visiting),
O is for the Oriental Saloon
50 minutes ago