When I was around two thirds in, I started idly concocting a review in my brain, about how the almost surreal elements and characters was what gave this narrative such a verisimilitude. Cue me over the 80% mark, just going to search for a detail, and finding out this is nonfiction. Sure, there are artistic licenses, but in essence?
I love it when knowing absolutely nothing about a book pays up in such ways.
As I mentioned previously in an update, the general tone reminded me a lot of latinoamerican writing. This has a lot to do with the conservative (and quirky) societies that brew in relatively small, isolated towns. You have the sedate and beautiful surface, and the decades/generations long ugly undercurrents. Everyone "behaves" in public out of a certain need for society and peace, and whomever "pops" may as well go the whole nine-yards and wear it like a flag.
So, that's basically the aim: to illustrate Savannah. The plot as it were serves the theme. We go into the deep ugly undercurrents. Almost every ugly you can imagine. Sometimes you are enraged and amused at the same time from the sheer hypocrisy rampant. I spent most of the book in some queer state of entertained stupefaction because it is so grotesque you almost can't believe it. But you do. You recognize it. It is your hometown.
This one was fast fun and a different flavour on the usual tropes of it's genre. Big on representation, feminism, and an interesting peek into a rich and varied culture and myth set that I confess I know nothing about.
The kids feel a bit older than they are (might be a cultural thing), and this thing of putting the end of the world responsibilities onto the children's shoulders is one that constantly sticks in my craw now that I'm older, but I happen to know it was the bomb when I was a kid (Harry Potter, I'm looking at you) so the one star demoted might be an "unintended audience" thing.
Wondering what else I can get my hands on from the area, which this book's popularity might make easier, so kudos too for broadening horizons and opening markets.
On various fronts. The overarching subject, the sense of hopelessness, helplessness and despair, the long-winded, meandering way the story is told (which is on par with the idea that it is a stream-of-conscience recount), and the purpose way in which this guy's obliviousness is made plain (and cringe-inducing) for the reader (and the teller).
Found it brilliant, at points boring and quite maddening.
Oh, and I leave it with a feeling akin to what Catcher in the Rye left me.
Ghostly, entertaining jaunt. Foreign setting, lots of fantasy, family intrigues and romance. Teens and young adults would be a good audience for this one.
I liked it well enough, though I wanted to thump some sense into Li Lan several times. And she does the distressed damsel quite a bit. And some issues are managed in somewhat simplistic ways. But it was a speedy read, and I had a good time.