Posts Tagged With: Hiromi Goto

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson – A Review

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The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.

She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

     


I’m hoping that Frankenstein is going to be the worst in the pile of books I’ve challenged myself to read this year. It’s been so much fun to discover new-to-me authors like N.K. Jemisin and Hiromi Goto and rediscover someone like Ursula K. Le Guin. I want the fun to keep on coming.

Today I get to talk about another new-to-me discovery: Nalo Hopkinson‘s Brown Girl in the Ring. This book is Hopkinson’s first, published in 1998. Hopkinson won the Locus Award for Best New Novel, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, as well as the Warner Aspect first novel competition for her work. Plus the book has a blurb on the front cover from none other than Octavia Butler.

So, it wasn’t like I was going in with any expectations or anything.

Brown Girl in the Ring takes place in a future Toronto, a city that’s been turned into a “donut hole”–anyone who could escaped from the decaying city to the suburbs, leaving the town and the people behind to rot. One of these people is Ti-Jeanne, a young Caribbean Canadian who survives with her infant son and her grandmother, Gros-Jeanne, a healer and seer. Ti-Jeanne has started seeing visions herself–demons and skeletons in top hats, among other things. While she’s trying to deal with this, her ex- (her son’s father) comes to her looking for help. He has gotten messed up with a necromancer of sorts who wants Tony to harvest a human heart from the premier of Ontario. Mayhem ensues.

I really enjoyed this book. Hopkinson has done a fine job building this dystopian world; it’s one I would love to learn more about. She’s created the remains of an inner city that are wholly believable, rich, and three-dimensional. I’m also thankful for the chance to learn about a culture I admit I know little about.

The same richness can be found in Hopkinson’s characters. They’re all fairly well developed, enough so, anyway, to contribute something to the tale. Rudy may be a bit over the top, but he’s a fun guy to hate, and he gave me the shivers.

Hopkinson’s prose is sturdy. While it isn’t magic on the level of Le Guin, it gets the job done and contains some awesome metaphors such as a character shaking someone’s hand as if he were “palping rotten carrion” and comparing the smell of night air to “biting into an apple.” All in all an excellent read. 4.75/5

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Half World by Hiromi Goto – A Review

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Melanie Tamaki is human—but her parents aren’t. They are from Half World, a Limbo between our world and the afterlife, and her father is still there. When her mother disappears, Melanie must follow her to Half World—and neither of them may return alive.

                      


I’ve now finished book four in the Women of Genre Fiction challenge. Can I just say that, so far, this has been a blast? All four books have been fun to read and have something to recommend. Okay, Frankenstein caused me to roll my eyes a lot more than the other three, but it was still worth reading.

And so was Half World. This book, written by Hiromi Goto, is the first YA title on my list. As you might expect from the blurb above, it’s a dark tale. Melanie is a fourteen-year-old living with her mother in poverty. She’s chubby and doesn’t do well in school, so is labeled a special needs student and is a victim of bullies. Crows seem to like her, though. Coming home from school one day, she finds the hovel she lives in empty and the phone that’s been out of service for months starts ringing. On the other end of the line is our villain, Mr. Glueskin, who tells Melanie she must come to Half World if she ever wants to see her mother again.

And so she does. But not without help. She enters Half World with the aid of a jade rat given to her by a neighbor woman, Ms. Wei, a shopowner who reminds me very much of Mrs. Whatsit from A Wrinkle in Time.

I enjoyed Half World. Melanie felt like a real teenager to me: smarter and braver than she realizes, and yet, capable of complete meltdowns when things just get too much. Half World, too, is really cool. Goto does a good job conveying the vague limbo-ish feel of the place, and the characters who exist there are a hoot–straight out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting–and yet, many of them are not just scenery. Certain scenes in Half World also reminded me of similar scenes in Stephen King’s Song of Susannah (book six of The Dark Tower). Roast suckling pig!

My only serious complaint with the book is, well, the premise. Goto defines Half World as the place everyone goes when they die. This is where Melanie’s parents are when Melanie is conceived, so they are already, presumably, dead.

Dead people conceiving children.

I just don’t buy that. I didn’t buy it in Angel, and I buy it less here. How does that even work?

But I liked Melanie and Ms. Wei so much–and Mr. Glueskin, awesome villain that he is–it was easy for me to just not think about it. (I also try not to think about it in Angel. And season 4 never happened either.) I also loved the illustrations created by Jillian Tamaki. 3.5/5

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Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge

wogf_250I don’t normally do reading challenges. Not that I’m all superior to them or anything. I just hate taking on obligations I may not be able to meet. That, and, well yeah, I’ll read what I want when I want, thanks very much, is usually how I feel.

That said, this year’s challenge from Worlds Without End caught my eye on Sunday, and I decided to sign on. That challenge is to read 12 books by 12 women genre authors in 12 months. Looking over the list of possibilities, it reminded me that there is still so much to read, and I hadn’t read as many authors on the list as I wish I had.

Time to amend that.

Although for me, it’s going to be 12 books in 6 months, because of the whole just discovering this two days ago thing. Fortunately, I read fairly quickly.

The other aspect of this challenge is that I have to review all 12 of those books. Blog post material!

Here’s what I’m going to read (Note that I’ve not read any of these books before and I made it a point to choose authors I haven’t read before either, for the most part.):

I’m actually excited to read all of these, not just the ones I commented on. And the first one’s already done; just need to write the review. Oh, Victor.

What do you think of reading challenges in general and this one in particular? Are there books by the authors above you think are better? (I can change what I’m reading any time.)

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