January 2016 Round-Up

VonG

Best of January: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson): While this book took around 400 pages to really break into frenzied action, I have to commend the world-building. Mistborn has a rich magic system involving metals that is intriguing and imaginative, managing to feel fresh in the plethora of magic wielding protagonists. My favorite part of the book though is that instead of crafting a faceless nameless evil, Sanderson motivates the villain in a compelling way. This is a trend in fantasy novels that I support–tell me why the ‘evil’ created the empire instead of just going “idk, it’s the manifestation of evil. you know. they’re bad, they have red glow-y eyes to prove it.” and Sanderson does this with a brilliant subtlety. Vin is also pretty kick-ass as a main female character that doesn’t just exist to be a damsel in distress or a mysterious love interest but instead as a dynamic foil to the other characters. Visually stunning.

Worst of January: Guy in Real Life (Steve Brezenoff): Geek boy meets weird sewing-pixie girl and whoomp, love happens (of course it does). I am so tired of the ‘nerd’ stereotypes in YA fiction and G.I.R.L. did nothing to break out of those tired and greasy tropes. Also, like The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak, the book took a hard and unnecessarily dramatic swerve at the end that left me baffled because it felt shoe-horned uncomfortably in to create a climax. Those kind of events seem ridiculously out of place in books that otherwise stick to strict feasibility and relatable-ity  and always jar me out of the world. Why does your dopey teen love story need the threat of MURDER (or creepy stalkers I guess)? This book wasn’t horrible, just the worst I read this month (sorry).

Maggie

Best of January: The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight by Martha Ackmann

If I had to imagine my soulmate in book form, it might just be Mercury 13 – level-headed, informed, articulate, and a good storyteller with a strong feminist streak. Focusing on the women pilots subjected to astronaut testing in the 50s and 60s, Ackmann manages to compress a staggering amount of information about these women into just under 200 pages while still making the story compelling enough to keep me reading. Since most nonfiction authors are heavy on info and light on story or light on info and heavy on story, I was especially impressed with Ackmann’s skill here. She also manages to keep a level of objectivity and professionalism even when reporting on sensitive topics, allowing the information she’s gathered to speak for itself in a powerful way. I guess all I’m saying is if Erika Eiffel can marry the Eiffel tower, then I should be able to court Mercury 13.

Worst of January: Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison

It’s been a couple weeks since I finished this book and I’m still filled with smoldering bitterness. The book was roughly 225 pages long, so let’s do some math here. The first 200 are forced and clumsy world-building, so the first 89% is complete shit. The last 25 pages are poorly-written and heavy-handed philosophy concerning birth control, so the last 11% is complete shit. Leaving us with approximately 100% shit. The only way I imagine this book being published is the editor’s wife threatened to take Billy and go stay with her sister if he was late to another of their son’s birthday parties:

Harrison: I wrote, “It is hot in New York City. There are many people here. There is not enough food. Look at all the people being sad because there is not enough food. This is bad. It is hot. We should have birth control.”
Editor: Well, yeah. Okay. I mean. But why don’t you show me, not tell me – you know?
Harrison: Oh, yeah. I see what you’re saying. I’ll develop these characters, use them to illustrate how bad the world is.
Editor: Yeah, yeah. We’re getting somewhere here, Harrison!
Harrison: Alright, I got, “Andy said, ‘It is hot in New York City. There are many people here. There is not enough food. Look at all the people being sad because there is not enough food. This is bad. It is hot. We should have birth control.'”
Editor, checking watch: …
Harrison: …
Editor: It’s… probably fine.

 

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Rocket Girl – George D. Morgan

So in my mind, a rocket and a book have pretty similar trajectories. There’s the opening scene to set the stage, followed by rising action, a climax, and then declining action with the reader smoothly riding that comfortable emotional arc from start to finish.

graph

More or less.

Actually, that’s such an obvious and apt analogy that I’m surprised the author George Morgan didn’t make it himself since he felt the need to interject with whole chapters about his writing process throughout Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s First Female Rocket Scientist. For such a fitting analogy, though, here is a rough approximation of how reading it actually felt:

graph2

Send help.

Based in part on the play Morgan had written and produced previously, Rocket Girl is the story of his mother Mary Sherman Morgan and her experiences as the first and only female engineer at North American Aviation where she developed hydyne, the propellant that finally allowed famous rocket scientist Wernher von Braun to launch a rocket into orbit.

Morgan clearly tapped into his creative writing skills here because this was a damn compelling story, clearly conveying the frustration as Mary struggles to find a foothold in the field and then urgency as she attempts to find a viable propellant before the Soviets do. Now I read a good deal of nonfiction and even consider it one of my favorite genres, but it’s rare that it makes me as excited as Rocket Girl did. Can you white-knuckle ride a book? Because I was probably as close as you can get when they first tested Mary’s new propellant on a full-fledged, real-deal rocket.

That’s just the rub, though: Rocket Girl reads as a story. It almost seems like Morgan took the play he wrote, slapped in a few sources here and there, and called it a biography. And when I say a few, I mean a few. He says his mother was notoriously secretive about her past, so how did he know what his mother’s internal monologue was when she road her horse to school, when she was in a hospital for unwed mothers, or when she finally saw her propellant succeed? He never says. I’m assuming that he must have had to ask relatives and acquaintances, but who were these people? He never says. Where is he getting this information?  It may very well be an accurate and well-researched account – he does provide sources that show Mary did invent hydyne – but Morgan takes too much creative license without facts to back it up, which makes me leery of some of the other information he offers.

Also, it’s very seldom that I critique a writer on a line-by-line basis, but there is a passage in Rocket Girl that I can’t let slip by. In the final chapter or two of the book, Morgan writes:

Like throwing a baby shower for a girl who had been gang-raped, the whole circus would turn a blind eye to what got them there in the first place.

Excuse me? The fuck did you just say? I had to reread this sentence at least three times before it sank in because I couldn’t believe that not only did Morgan think it was an acceptable comparison to make, but an editor didn’t immediately scratch it out on the transcript. Of all the analogies he could have made, why did he choose such loaded subject material? Then to imply that rape is something that people should turn a blind eye to? Male privilege, silencing victims, and co-opting others’ trauma for shock value all in one line – I don’t want to be a part of this world anymore.

Rocket Girl is a hard book to pin down. If Morgan had had a stronger editor or more experience with writing nonfiction, this book would have been easily one of the best I’ve read so far in 2016 – I loved the story, loved Mary as a character, and was in a constant state of wanting to screech “LADIES IN SPACE! FUCK YEAH!” at my family, friends, and coworkers (not that I need or usually offer an excuse). In the end, though, it’s impossible to look past the lack of sources and the motherfucking gang rape analogy, which makes this book difficult to recommend.

What The Fuck Wednesday – 01/27/16

Have you ever reached a point in a book where the author clearly just said “fuck it” and called it a day? We’ve dedicated Wednesday to capturing these moments when you have to ask yourself, “What the fuck?”

Maggie:

Ever since it had decided to have Wernher von Braun write space-related articles for it, the publication had become the envy of the industry – copies were “rocketing” off the shelves.

Did you just put quotation marks around your own joke? Shit, man – thanks. In a book titled Rocket Girl and a sentence involving the father of rocket science, I might have missed that one. I feel like this is the literary equivalent of retelling a joke to your friends who didn’t laugh because you think they didn’t get it. No. They got it. It just wasn’t funny.

… impregnated by the sperm cells of deception.

I have heard unexpected pregnancies describe many ways, but this… this is a new one. I have so many questions. How exactly does a sperm cell deceive? Do you know what a sperm cell is? Do you know what pregnancy is? Have you met a woman? What’s happening here? I’m baffled. Fucking baffled.

Like throwing a baby shower for a girl who had been gang-raped, the whole circus would turn a blind eye to what got them there in the first place.

Of all the things that exist in the world, gang rape is what you decide to use as your simile? And then you imply that it is something we should turn a blind eye to?

VonG:

I’ve been reading Leaves of Grass for what feels like ten years now (it’s been nearly two months, that’s basically the same thing). So for this What the Fuck Wednesday, I’m presenting a record of some of my thoughts from the beginning two-thirds of the book.

holy shit why are so many of these poems about boats

i like when walt whitman decides to take us on a visual tour of america. especially because it takes 200 fucking pages because America is huge. nice one whitman.

the good news is that if you want to fuck walt whitman, there’s p much a 99% chance he’d want to fuck you too (i don’t know what that 1% would account for, considering whitman would also fuck inanimate objects like rocks and the ocean)

i’d develop a drinking game for reading Leaves of Grass but idk how to do it in a way that wouldn’t lead to alcohol poisoning. even if there was only one rule: 1. drink when whitman mentions boats

other drinking rules that would kill you: when whitman mentions someone doing physical labor, lists state names, salivates over lumber, screams democracy as loud as he can thru the pages at you

i’d do a count on how many times whitman uses the word ‘boat’ but it would make me want to find a boat to set fire to

i lied i checked, he uses the word boat 51 times and boats an additional 16 times so basically every ten pages you’ve probably read about a boat

i don’t want ppl to think i don’t like whitman. i do, my favorite poems so far are “i really like boats” and “america, **** yeah”

my bonus What the Fuck comes from Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris, for this gem:

“That’s fascinating,” Eric said, sounding fascinated.

Wow, how descriptive. I’m really glad that you followed the #1 rule of writing that’s taught in 101 classes at the middle school level, show don’t tell. This really paints a vivid picture for me of this character’s reaction, so artful, so clever. Thanks for giving me the faith that I will one day too be a best-selling author, if this is the level of writing needed to cut it :’)

Top Ten Tuesdays– Vampire Edition

As I was thinking about starting Vampire AcademyI found my thoughts shifting to a topic that has troubled me about vampire love stories in YA fiction for many years now. I don’t find the appeal of vampires baffling, because all things fairly considered, I would totally be a vampire. Hit me up (really tho, hit me up. We can work something out. I already hate the sun.)

What was confusing, and still is, really comes down to the question: if you were a couple hundred years old, why would you ever want to date a 17-year-old?

Over and over again we have these scenes where vampire (age 100+) confesses to average, clumsy teenage girl their undying (get the joke?) passionate love. And my reaction is always the same. ???

This isn’t supposed to be mean towards 17-year-olds, in the sense that, I get it. I’ve been that age, I remember what it’s like. The thing is, when you’re that age, high school is pretty much your whole world. You probably still live with your parents. You complain about having to learn algebra.

And that’s FINE. But the thing is, when you leave high school behind, when you start developing into an autonomous individual, your interests and what you’re concerned about changes so much. I mean, if you’re 17, think about a 13-year-old. They probably seem so different to you. What do you have in common with them? You can have some conversations, sure, but the level of connection that leads to undying love? Uhm.

So if you were over a hundred years old, WHAT ATTRACTION DOES A 17-YEAR-OLD HAVE?

So for this Top Ten Tuesday, here are

Ten Reasons a Several Hundred Year Old Vampire Would Want to Date a Teenage

Presented in descending order of what I think is actually likely (I ordered one of these lists for once, how about that!)

10. A Lolita complex (I’m saying they have a tendency towards pedophilia. Also, the possibility that all vampires have Lolita complexes makes me want to scream. the only worse thing would be that being a vampire gives you hairy palms like Dracula)

9. They enjoy seducing teenagers as a game and laugh about it @ vampire pub night

8. Self-hatred

7. They feel dumb trying to get with older people in their 17-year-old body

6. They made a bet about it

5. ???

4. They’re writing a book about how teenage behavior has changed over the centuries (though when you look at how a 17 y/o acts in Jane Austen books, the answer seems to be: not much)

3. Other general research purposes?

2. It’s better than watching t.v. all day?? I guess???

1.  When one is turned into a vampire at age 17, their emotional maturity never ages either so they’re stuck in teenage hell forever, making it the case that dating another teenager is logical (this is actually the true horror story)

I actually find number 1 to be compelling and satisfies my question as to all these YA vampire books, which is good because I can’t stop myself from reading them. Also it makes everything WAY less creepy (though it is still kind of creepy tbh. Talk about a real age gap.)

Fuck Yeah Feminism – January 2016

Fuck Yeah Feminism is a feature that highlights authors who write books that do not fall into the trap of blatant or subtle misogyny. Each month we select an author in literature and YA literature to promote and recommend a book of theirs to start with.

Maggie’s pick: Margaret Atwood (A Handmaid’s Tale)

Margaret Atwood is my soulmate. She just doesn’t know it yet.

Roped into reading her when MaddAddam was voted best science fiction novel by the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2013, I was head-over-heels for the trilogy before I’d even finished book one. After devouring all three, I remembered A Handmaid’s Tale had been sitting on my shelf for years and grabbed it. That was about five Atwood novels ago, so I think we have a pretty well-established relationship at this point.

What I love about Atwood is that she makes her female characters pop in a media culture so devoted to churning out 2D women with 3D tits. She portrays nuanced female characters that span a breathed of backgrounds, personalities, and moralities, but also doesn’t portray them as flawless, either. It’s always touched a nerve that feminist writers tend to show their women as intelligent, capable, and composed. Counterintuitive, right? Hold up a minute, though. While I love me a strong female lead, what about the rest of us? What about the women who aren’t on point, but show up to work with a jelly stain on their shirts and worry about having time to pick up cat food? Because the last time I checked, I fall into that latter category. To view women through the lens of perfectionism is problematic in its own way, so I love that Atwood pats us average Janes on the head and goes, “It’s okay, bby. I understand. I have cat-related problems, too.”

Atwood also never leaves readers feeling like a bit of grit and guts are going to change the difficult problems of the patriarchy, female oppression, and even feminism itself. An “ooh rah rah” novel featuring badass ladies scrawling our new constitution in the blood of the menfolk is entertaining now and again, but they kind of do a disservice to the complexity of real women’s issues. Atwood shows readers things like how deeply entrenched patriarchy is in both men and women, how women sometimes work to oppress themselves, and how the answer to the patriarchy is not a matriarchy – all ugly truths that are too easy to avoid in the name of girl power. While it may come off as pessimistic, it really makes readers take a critical look at how complicated and far-reaching these problems are, which is the perspective we need to adopt if we want to solve them.

If you’re looking for an author that goes beyond the trope of faultless women tackling the patriarchy with a snap of well-manicured fingers and takes a deep, sometimes uncomfortable approach to women’s issues, Atwood is your girl. Actually, scratch that. Don’t get any ideas – she’s mine.

VonG’s pick: Kirsten Cashore (Graceling)

While I volunteered at my local library, I would often be asked by moms to recommend books for their teenage daughters. This always put me in a tough spot because YA fiction is not the kindest to female characters. Oftentimes in YA books, no matter the genre, leading ladies fall into a love triangle trope and they end up sacrificing her goals or agency to this plot line. This isn’t exactly a message I want to spread to girls–hey, be strong and the main character, but look for love and make sure when you find it, you give up everything for your budding relationship!

Thankfully I read Graceling, as it was on the YALSA list for that year’s conference, and I never had to worry about a book to recommend again.

There’s still a romance in Graceling, but what sets the book apart is the continued attention to the main character, Katsa, and her story. It may be easy to draw parallels to Katniss of The Hunger Games, not just because the two characters share a similar name, but because both of them are survivors. (I reference The Hunger Games books, of course, which had far less of a focus on the love story than the movies.)

Feminism is a hard line to walk sometimes. You have to be careful of understanding how feminism doesn’t necessary mean rejecting the idea of femininity–one can be feminine and still a strong agent. It doesn’t have to swing all the way around to women being “just like men.”

At the start of Graceling, Katsa is not someone who displays that knowledge. She’s flawed: she’s violent, petulant, and terrified of being described as feminine.

But when you examine the world Katsa lives in, you understand why she’s so angry. Katsa’s hatred and fear of femininity is because being a female in her society is being something that is considered weak and to be taken advantage of. Yes, Katsa is “unnecessarily” violent, but she is because she’s scared that she’ll be forced into a fate she doesn’t want–subservience. Katsa’s violence is a result of overcompensation for her fears. It isn’t a character trait that’s supposed to be positive, like “being a strong woman.” She reacts in a negative way, but there’s a place of motivation for it, Katsa isn’t just being violent because women should be “strong.”

I often see people criticizing flawed characters (Katsa included), saying they aren’t good examples of feminism. But I think that’s not the right way to view the issue. Flawed characters should be shown because it shows how a system of oppression changes people. Katsa is violent and rude because of fear, that’s what fear does to people. Through the book, she changes, she comes to understand that romance doesn’t have to mean someone possessing her and taking away her freedom of choice (Prince Po is such a great role model of male behavior too.) Cashore’s romance is one where two people support each other and, if there is a ‘rescue,’ it’s mutual.

Kirsten Cashore gives us a YA heroine whose story I am proud to recommend.

 

Greasy Nerds in YA Fiction

There’s this thing about YA fiction where it presents that if you are a “nerd,” you are also inherently greasy. I don’t know why this would be, one would have to do a research on causality to determine whether one is attracted to geeky things like video games, D&D and sci-fi because they have a grease problem or if being attracted to geeky things actually causes your body to produce more oil (both seem unlikely, meaning there’s probably a third variable here because correlation doesn’t mean causation. STATISTICS BITCHES).

Anyway, drawing on all of the memory I have left from my elementary school education, I drew this Venn Diagram to illustrate the traditional representation of teenage (greasy) nerds.

greasy 1 smol

The thing is, there is a fundamental error here in this Venn Diagram. This error is in assuming that there exists a teenager that ISN’T greasy. That’s completely untrue because all teenagers have hormone levels so high you could say they’re chasing puff the magic dragon. Here’s my edited diagram:

greasy 2 smol

You can see here that within the larger circle of people who are greasy are ALL teenagers, and within them the subset that is teenage nerds. Now obviously all teenage nerds are greasy because all teenagers are greasy, reflecting the fact that, I don’t know, being greasy has a lot to do with hormones and isn’t really something people can control? So leave them alone about it?

Moral of this story: puberty sucks.

This fits into my longer, ongoing war with the dumbing down to a dichotomy of nerd representation in YA books.

(S/O to Guy in Real Life for inspiring this rant. What a fucking hot mess nerd representation is in THAT book)

An Ode to Female SciFi Characters

Leia_resents_Jabba's_pull_on_her_chain

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you are portrayed as weak,
Staying quiet, docile, and meek,
A victim and a whiner,
Waiting to be coddled by someone with a wiener.

I’m sorry that you are portrayed as dumb,
Not understanding the uncertainty principle or the vector sum,
Staring gape-mouthed at their genius,
Waiting to be enlightened by someone with a penis.

I’m sorry you are portrayed as slutty,
In a man’s hands becoming putty,
Stripped down to your panties in interstellar space, a fool,
Waiting to be banged by someone with a tool.

But I’m also sorry that you are portrayed as strong,
A “badass bitch” who’s fought too long,
Who won’t let down her guard and is quick to anger,
Waiting to be tamed by someone with a pecker.

I’m sorry that you are portrayed as smart,
A know-it-all filled with snark,
An arrogant and haughty snob,
Waiting to be humbled by someone with a knob.

I’m sorry that you are portrayed as prudish,
Puritanical, uptight, and priggish,
Flustered whenever a man so much as casts you a look,
Waiting to be impassioned by someone with a cock.

I’m sorry that, no matter how bright and capable you are, your final reward
Is a lackluster relationship with a man and his pork sword.

I’m sorry.

Top Ten Tuesdays– Walt Whitman Edition

Ten Things Walt Whitman Wants to Get Down and Dirty With

 (according to Leaves of Grass)

  1. Nature (esp. grass. Did you notice the title?)
  2. The ocean (actual real thing that Walt Whitman wrote and made me imagine after I read it about the ocean: “that it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues” COME ON WHITMAN! REALLY?)
  3. Boats. No really, boats.
  4. America, including each state individually, also Canada
  5. Me
  6. You
  7. A lot of the United States Presidents but especially Abraham Lincoln
  8. The wind (another actual real thing that Walt Whitman wrote and made me imagine without ever wanting or needing to “winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me” !?! WHAT?)
  9. Women and men, of any age and shape, he’s really not that picky tbh
  10. ??? everyone

 

An American Icon, everyone.

Book Haul – January 2016

Do I disgust you? Because I disgust me.

That is a stack of 118 books that I’ve bought from five different bookstores  in the last three weeks including 70 books for $75 I got when the local book outlet (and by local I mean the book outlet two hours away from me) had a $1 sale. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as free as I did walking into this bookstore, not having to check a single price tag, and just tossing book after book into my cart – not basket, cart. A cart full of books. $75. What a world.

I took probably two full shelves of science fiction, a shelf full of classics, and a shelf full of nonfiction from the outlet alone. That’s right – I bought goddamn shelves of books. Just scooped whole shelves into my cart, which, to reiterate, was a fucking cart.

Some of the finds I’m super excited about:

Fiction
– Consider Phlebas by Ian M. Banks
– Cryptonomicon by William Gibson
– The Drowned World J.G. Ballard
– Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
– Wool by Hugh Howey

Non-Fiction
– Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts
– Man and Microbes: Disease and Plagues in History and Modern Times
– Murderous Contagions: A Human History of Disease
– The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
– The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code

Make Room! Make Room! A guest post

A good friend of mine recently read Make Room! Make Room!  by Harry Harrison and she had something to say on the matter. Fueled with the indignant rage that is right at home on this blog, here is exactly why Maggie thinks this book is utter garbage. Enjoy!

Also expect more blog posts from Maggie :’)

– – –

makeroom

Have you ever finished a book, slowly closed it, and thought to yourself, “What in ever-loving Christ’s name did I just read?”  Welcome to Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison, the novel that Soylent Green was based on.

Set in New York City at the cusp of the new millennium, Make Room! centers on detective Andy Rusch solving the murder of a local racketeer against the background of crime, poverty, starvation, and sickness caused by extreme overpopulation.

Alright. Like I’m with you here. A dystopian novel that doesn’t involve a teenage girl in a lyrca jumpsuit who manages to obtain enough skill in combat, tactics, and rhetoric within three months to lead a revolution against her government? No set of teenage boys to chase said teenage heroine, inevitably ending in her having to choose between the two? No teenagers at all? I’m with you.

Too bad Harrison seems to have settled on the plot just to yell “Look at the crime! People are starving, sick! They have to murder each other to survive!” at his readers repeatedly. I wish I was making up how blatant his preaching was, but those lines were dialogue actually spoken by the characters who naturally don’t hold any real substance, serving only as mouthpieces to soliloquize on just how crummy this whole overpopulation problem is.

The clichés in the characterization are almost physically painful. Andy is your typical good guy in a world gone wrong with leading lady Shirl as his damsel in distress and old-timer Sol wistfully reflecting on the good ol’ days. They come off so one-dimensional and canned that it’s hard to care about them in even a fleeting way, especially when their dialogue consists of telling readers how crime-ridden, poor, dirty, etc. the city is or how hungry, sick, tired, etc. they are. While I understand the need to establish a sense of place and appreciate authors who take time to develop their settings, nearly the first. Two. Hundred. pages are composed of this forced, clumsy world-building spewing from these cardboard cutout’s mouths.

All of this preamble leads up to one of the final chapters where Harrison tells us what Make Room! is about: birth control. In a real throwback, we see Shirl play the misguided student as wise philosopher Sol shows her the error of her ways, explaining why legalized birth control is not only morally sound but is necessary for our continued survival – a style of writing that went out of fashion before we switched from B.C. to A.D.

While I agree with the sentiment, I was furious that I had slogged through the entire book, hoping for some kind of payoff, only to be treated to ten pages of poorly-written, heavy-handed philosophizing before a hastily slapped-together ending.

Even beyond all the conceptual failures, though, the novel was just poorly constructed on a technical level. The sentences were short and bland with Harrison falling into the trap of telling the reader instead of showing them. If I had a dollar for every time Harrison says how hot New York City is, I could buy ten new novels in an attempt to erase the memory of this one.

At one point halfway through the novel, Harrison even says that the heat was so pervasive that no one mentioned it anymore, but then continues to say how hot it is throughout the rest of the novel. The heavy use of exposition and repetition are unforgivable. Paired with awkward phrasing and choppy transitions between scenes, the writing is almost embarrassingly amateur.

For something that started off so promising with its lack of teenagers and their hormones, readers are left with a poorly-written novel that has no clear conflict, climax, or resolution. It’s dull, dissatisfying, and disappointing when compared to both Harrison’s other novels and Soylent Green. I can’t believe I’m saying it and will likely lose my serious readers certification, but skip Make Room! Make Room!­ ­– the movie is better.