This is a gimmick book, which in itself isn't a bad thing if there's a good story in there. Maybe there was a such thing in this, but unfortunately for me all that was buried under heaps of problems.
The first ninety pages were a positive surprise. A man writing a fifteen-year-old girl in first person voice can only end up in disaster, was my first thought and indeed it was too good to last. Because the first time jump and second part started the stalker trend.
Instead of continuing writing Holly's story from her perspective, Mitchell does everything in his power to reduce her into a pawn and object in the lives of men around her. Holly disappears into the background and is only shown through glimpses in the moments most important to her life and story.
A one night stand, a would be husband, the love of her adult life, and then the world saving or ending battle through an alien black woman. That's a bad description but it's the best I can do for the fifth narrator and point of view character. To add insult to the injury Mitchell uses POC to refer to a "Pear Occident Company" and reduces the immortals into small minded trans-phobics with a single line.
Fun times end with a second short part from Holly's point of view and with her aged voice, but it's too little too late. The story, its characters, and the author had already lost me for good.
In theory, this book should be brilliant. In practice, it's not. And I can't quite pinpoint why the alternative history doesn't work for me.
Is it because, although Evaristo changed the location names—still highly recognisable—she kept every oppressive symbol white people have used and created against black people in this world? Or is it because the characterisations are terrible? There are some really good moments, but mostly it's probably because the characters have been harnessed in the service of THE MESSAGE instead of driving the story forward through all the real horrors of slavery.
Probably. Bah, I don't know. Read it yourself and tell me a better theory.