This review has taken me ages to write. Partly because I when I finished I couldn’t articulate what I didn’t like about it and why- I was just left with a string of letters for feelings that went something like this:
On the surface level, there were loads of reasons to dislike this book. For starters, the plot is lacking and the characters were lousy. Take Rosemary for instance- supposed to be the life and soul of the story- but half the time she’s a bit of a dishcloth (too shy to have a personality) and the next she’s a badass super intelligent flirt- not that the second would have been such a bad thing, but there was no consistency, so it felt a bit like she kept having a personality transplant.
But plenty of other people have criticised the book for those reasons. What really bothered me was something else entirely.
Now I really struggle to enjoy books that ram their message down my throat– regardless of whether I agree with it. But what I hate more than anything is dumb, lazy messages. This had a bit of both- so let’s go through them:
- War is bad– yes we can all agree- got anything more nuanced to say? No- ah well, it’s not like there’s thousands of years of human thought on the subject… *head in hands*
- Anyone can be the villain of a story– when Rosemary’s father is found out to have dealt illegal arms (used to kill a ton of people) the nice “voice of reason” character says that it’s a-okay cos anyone could end up doing wrong without even realising it…. Well that’s wholly pessimistic and just a bit wrong. In reality, you actually have to do a lot of evil stuff before you get the reputation of being evil. Let’s be honest, people that do evil shit have to take responsibility for their actions- Rosemary’s father did something dodgy, end of.
- It’s alright as long as you’re trying– sometimes that’s a fair point- when you’re not trying to make a moral argument, that is. Because not only is it a naff thing to say, it’s also a cop out to excuse behaviour of people that stand by in the face of evil. I prefer J K Rowling’s attitude of admiring bravery against the odds (to paraphrase some of her interviews). Much more inspiring.
- There’s no such thing as objective morality- it’s all about perspective. (Ah nice bit of moral relativism to brighten up the day) To illustrate this, there is a scene where some alien thieves take their stuff and punches one of them in the face- but it’s all right because of their background. Violence and theft is totally excusable for some people/aliens- and that’s because they just don’t know better! If that isn’t the soft bigotry of low expectations I don’t know what is. In my book- if you treat people like they don’t have to abide by certain rules, because they’re just not capable of adhering to the same moral standards, then that’s bigoted. Oh and to top it all off, one of the characters explains that they accidentally offended one of the thieves, so actually they deserved to get hit. So *obviously* it’s your fault if the crooks aren’t nice and peaceful- you must have unknowingly offended them. Plus offence taking is always an excuse to get violent people!
- Reptile sex is cool. I know what she’s getting at but seriously, as a metaphor for inclusivity and integration, this is a bit shit. Because this is basically bestiality and reptile sex is categorically not sexy. And if that makes me “specieist” then so be it- cos as far as I’m aware bestiality is still a crime. It doesn’t matter if you tell me it’s attractive- I have to feel it. And while we’re on the subject of the romance- why do they have to sit around and discuss their feelings- sounds like an awful lot like the negotiations in 50 shades and that’s also categorically not romantic
- Oh and don’t help people with depression– there’s a nice metaphor about letting people die if they want to- so that’s nice… I guess? This is a new idea that’s been gaining popularity among people that know absolutely nothing about psychology. Apparently some people think that getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness means normalising it so that treatment no longer becomes necessary… cos that’s a good idea In all seriousness, seeking help is often one of the hardest things for someone with a mental illness to do- in fact so often not being able to see that they need help is a symptom. It’s *not helping* to say “ah well, that’s just their reality, leave them to it”.
All of this ideological bullshit gets in the way of the story- which explains why there isn’t one for 90% of the book.
Rating: 1 measly banana
So yeah- I clearly hated this- but I know a lot of people feel very differently. *I want to hear your opinions*. Have you read this? Did you love it or loathe it? Let me know in the comments!