Embassytown by China Miéville
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a very ambitious novel and gets high marks for aiming high. On the other hand, it's not very reader-friendly. I mark it down for not doing its job of engaging the reader and drawing them into what seems to be a very interesting world. The reader's appreciation of this book will depend on their tolerance for befuddlement.
The first third is the most frustrating. Since a major theme of the book is language (or, in the case of the Hosts, Language with a capital L), the author dumps the user into an alien landscape using futuristic language with only a few reference points. This would not have been so bad if the reader were also given a story. Instead, we are given a memoir. Or rather, we are given a hodge podge of a bits of memoir by a narrator that we can't quite identify with.
When things finally start happening in the immediate, the book gets a bit more interesting and engaging. Yet I could never quite shake the feeling that I wasn't quite there, in the moment, in the place. Description is fleeting. Dialog is circumspect. Events happen in a jumble.
Is this a literary novel masquerading as a science fiction novel? Or vice versa? It's definitely not a light summertime read.
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