The Wizard of Earthsea and Other May 2020 Reads
I forgot to write this post at the beginning of the month, but better late than never, right?
Recursion by Blake Crouch
This book was recommended by one of my co-workers, and I was immediately drawn by the title. "Recursion" is a computer science / programming concept, and I've always been fascinated about the ways it can be applied to storytelling.
The premise of the book revolves around a sickness called "False Memory Syndrome," where people are suddenly infected with memories that feel real but have never happened. It turns out that this syndrome is one of the effects of time travel, which a few people managed to accomplish, but is not yet widely known.
The book's approach to time travel and its consequences is phenomenal. The scope is grand, but in a way that did not diminish any of the characters' personal motivations and growth. Although the beginning was thrilling enough, the end was a really wild, exciting ride, and I thought it ended perfectly.
Storm from the East by Joanna Hathaway
The sequel to Dark of the West, this book follows teenagers, Athan and Aurelia, as they navigate family, responsibility, duty, and ethics during war.
I absolutely loved Dark of the West, from its lovable cast of protagonists to the masterful way Hathaway crafts political and war intrigue. However, this book is also quite heavy as it deals with concepts like imperialism, colonialism, and civil rebellion. I found it quite difficult to immerse myself in this book, mostly because so many heavy things are simultaneously happening in real life, and I wasn't in the mood to be bogged down by the emotional gravity of the story.
One of the most challenging things for me was the constant effort on the part of the author to show Arrin and General Dakar in somewhat of a redeemable light. Don't get me wrong, I think they're painted as villains generally, but I felt there were multiple parts that try to excuse their colonial attitudes. My personal stance on colonialism is that it's a terrible thing, considering that I come from a country that is still reeling from its effects. I am of the mindset that whatever positive things colonizers brought to my country could have been achieved through more humane measures. So when Arrin and General Dakar's colonialist motivations are explained away as being counter moves against the chokehold of a much larger empire, I still can't buy that.
Overall, I am still a big fan of this series and the author in general. I think it's valuable that there are so many perspectives presented, and I would encourage anyone reading to approach the book with a lot of critical thinking. It's actually rare to have something so complex, not just plot-wise, but also ethic-wise, in YA fantasy and I am in absolute awe of the author.
The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
This one is a fantasy classic, but this is the first time I picked it up. I purchased it as an audiobook.
I found it a little hard to get into. Its style is very different from fantasy novels of today. There was a lot more 'telling' than any author these days can get away with, and the plot didn't quite emerge until about a quarter way through. I would say that the narrator did a fantastic job with telling the story, and made the narrative sound a lot more magical and enchanting than I would have found it to be had I read it instead.