This book was recommended to my by my daughter, and since it was only 99p on kindle I bought and read it. It’s translated from Mexican and set in the early twentieth century. The story is told to the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the spread of Spanish Flu, along with the Great Depression and World War I. It was interesting reading in the time of Covid 19 about the quarantine rules to stop the spread of Spanish flu. As is traditional in South American/Central American fiction, there are elements of magical realism, particularly in the character of Simonopio, an abandoned baby found covered in swarming bees and followed his whole life by bees with whom he shares a deep bond. I found the book interesting and the language beautiful, although if I’m honest I did get a bit bored by it at times and was glad when I finished reading it.
I was really looking forward to this book, as a big fan of Patrick Ness, but I have to say I found it a little hard to get into at first (you could say it was a bit of a slow burner -wah wah wah!). Once I had listened for a while though, I found myself more and more drawn into the plot and invested in the characters. It starts in a world very like our own except that the existence of dragons is a fact and fairly commonplace and an (uneasy) alliance exists between dragons and humans. The main characters, including two dragons then jump into our world where dragons formally only existed in legends. This is clever and well done. The book is exciting and the characters are well drawn and the story has aspects of coming of age with child/parent relationships, young love and finding a place in the world as strong themes.
The funniest thing just happened! I keep a word document which I update whenever I finish reading a book or listening to an audiobook so I don’t forget when I get behind writing up my blog (which is pretty much all the time…) and I was so convinced that I remembered the lovely Irish voice narrating this story to me that I changed the listing from Kindle book to audiobook, but just to check I looked at my read books on my kindle and my listened to books on my audible app, and it was a kindle book not an audiobook! I guess the story just spoke to my inner voice so strongly I was sure I’d listened to it!! I loved the story – part whodunnit, part ghost story, part just lovely character driven drama – Jess Kidd is my current fiction writer crush!
I have read quite a few of Adam Roberts books and some I absolutely love and others I am a bit meh with, this one sadly fell into the later category for me. It’s somewhat confusing working out if it’s set in our distant future, or in an alternate reality, and while the end of the book sheds some light on what’s going on, still a lot is left to the reader to decide. I found the main character really unpleasant, and the general thinking of society to be uncomfortable, and although with hindsight I can see that this it to illustrate that a completely different society would feel odd and not right to our sensibilities still it made me tempted to give up on the book. I’m glad I didn’t give up because the ending what kind of interesting, but I still didn’t love it.
I listened to this while making my most recent patchwork quilt (https://www.instagram.com/p/CAkRQ2Jgeio/) so it’s forever linked in my mind with sewing squares together! I found the audiobook very interesting – a young man buys a prototype android and owning it has profound implications to his life. The book raises a lot of issues about what makes us human and sentient and if you can or should own a sentient machine. It’s sometimes hard to know who to root for as all the characters are flawed but it is certainly very thought provoking.