>> Monday, November 05, 2012
TITLE: Make Room! Make Room!
AUTHOR: Harry Harrison
This was the book for my October book club. It's a futuristic, written in 1966, but set in 1999, in a world where overpopulation has taken a terrible toll. Water, food, housing, everything is running out, and millions live either in indigence or on the edge of it. As things get worse and worse, we follow police detective Andy Rusch as he investigates the murder of a powerful mafioso, and falls in love with Shirl, the murdered man's mistress.
The most notable thing about this one is really how, for all its 1999 setting, this reflects the time in which it was written. Overpopulation is the big worry, gender roles are pretty retrograde, and so on. I found all these details pretty interesting. Unfortunately, the story Harrison chose to tell in that setting was very humdrum. Neither the mystery (which wasn't much of a mystery, anyway) nor Andy and Shirl's relationship captured my attention. I did like that Harrison portrays Shirl as a survivor, and doesn't demonise her for doing what she can to have a good life.
MY GRADE: C+. I enjoyed the idea of it and the setting, but it needed a better story.
Semi-interesting factoid: the film Soylent Green was apparently inspired by this book. Don't get too excited, though: the big, shocking plot point of the film is not in the book at all.
TITLE: What Was Lost
AUTHOR: Catherine O'Flynn
In 1984, a 10-year-old wannabe PI dissappears without a trace. 20 years later, two employees in the shopping centre that was one of the little girl's usual haunts start noticing a mysterious little girl wandering the service corridors at weird times. Thinking it can't really be a ghost, they investigate.
This was one of those books where you have absolutely no idea where the author's going, and I quite enjoyed that. The sections narrated from little Kate Meaney's point of view, as she compensates for the loneliness of her life after the death of her father by creating a very vivid imaginary life, are truly touching. I also really liked the sections featuring Lisa and Kurt at the shopping centre. They are a very good character study of two people caught in a world (and the behind-the-scenes at the shopping centre truly is a world of its own) they never intended to spend much time in, but where they seem to be trapped in by their feelings of alienation. The link between the two sections is obvious, but it's meaning and what it implies isn't. It was a book that left me feeling sad, but hopeful.
MY GRADE: A B.