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Search tags: once-upon-a-book-club
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-02-14 23:33
An Excess Male
An Excess Male: A Novel - Maggie Shen King

I almost loved this book. In fact I did love it, until about halfway through when I realized where it was going. Then, not so much.

 

First of all this book is far more speculative fiction than it is strict sci-fi. That's actually fine with me, but since it was marketed as sci-fi (and published on a sci-fi imprint) that did throw me off a little bit. The focus in this book is on the characters, not the world-building nor plot. Thankfully King does a good job with her character development - each character was well drawn, distinct, and sympathetic even when I didn't care for them at times. (Except BeiBei - he may in fact be the most obnoxious child in literature to date.) I was invested in these people and their plights.

 

The core of this story, at least for me, is how these four individuals are failing to have their needs met. And this is where my feelings on this book become complicated.

 

Spoilers below!
What I wanted the book to be about is these four people coming together, learning how to better take care of and love one another, and forming a supportive cohesive nontraditional family unit. That is not what happens. Instead the book does something I was suspicious of from the beginning: it imperils the queer character, makes them suffer, and ultimately cuts them off from the family unit. For the last half of the book he is basically just there to suffer and drive the other characters to action. The character that was neurodivergent also has a less than satisfying ending in my opinion, failing to gain his freedom (or dogs) and spending his time trying to ward off surveillance. The only real winners are the straight couple. And while I see what King was doing, and I think the narrative was functioning correctly, this is simply a story I'm very very tired of reading. I am, in fact, exhausted.

 

So where does that leave me? I feel bad criticizing a book for being something other than what I wanted it to be. The book was well written, and effectively told the story King set out to tell. Unfortunately it wasn't a story I wanted to hear right now. Quite frankly it bummed me out. I would happily give King another try, as I think she's a good author, but this book left me sad and craving a story with better outcomes for its more diverse characters.

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review 2019-02-13 21:52
Final Thoughts: Equal Rites
Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett

I'm an incoherent, blubbering, giggling mess after reading this. I'm also kicking myself for not having started to read these earlier. I must have highlighted over 50% of my Kindle edition, because Pratchett was such a genius at putting words together in the most amazing - dare I say magical? - ways.

 

By the end, I was fighting between turning the pages as fast as I could and slowing down to savor every word. But hey, that's what re-reads are for, right?

 

And Granny could not have found a better foil than Cutangle. I kept picturing him as Stephen Fry, for some reason, which only made me laugh harder.

 

I'm definitely reading more of these!

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text 2019-02-13 20:44
Reading progress update: I've read 85%.
Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett

‘You don’t know anything about boats!’ Cutangle protested. ‘I shall have to learn quickly, then,’ replied Granny calmly. ‘But I haven’t been in a boat since I was a boy!’ ‘I wasn’t actually asking you to come. Does the pointy bit go in front?’ Cutangle moaned. ‘This is all very creditable,’ he said, ‘but perhaps we can wait till morning?’ A flash of lightning illuminated Granny’s face. ‘Perhaps not,’ Cutangle conceded.

 

 

*snort*

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text 2019-02-13 19:38
Reading progress update: I've read 74%.
Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett

Finally Cutangle spoke, very slowly and carefully. ‘I look at it like this,’ he said. ‘Before I heard him talk, I was like everyone else. You know what I mean? I was confused and uncertain about all the little details of life. But now,’ he brightened up, ‘while I’m still confused and uncertain it’s on a much higher plane, d’you see, and at least I know I’m bewildered about the really fundamental and important facts of the universe.’

Reminds me of some of my college courses...

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text 2019-02-13 13:01
Reading progress update: I've read 64%.
Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett

"She’d be a witch and a wizard too. And she would show them."

 

Go Esk!

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