I expected something much different from the synopsis. I imagined something more similar to HG Wells's The Time Machine. Probably because I categorize these two books as "old sci-fi books", even though they aren't even in the same century ha. But I imagined something dense with a lot of description and old sci-fi style. Instead, I got culture shock, first person dialogue, a subtle treatise on government and revolution, and a theoretical question about the meaning of sentience. It was fascinating.
At first I was annoyed at two specific things: the language and the attitude towards women on Luna. The dialogue slang felt like a cheap trick that was just hacked off English plush a smattering of references to other languages. And the obnoxious whistling and treatment towards women seriously threw me off. But then about two hundred pages into the book, my annoyance dissipated somewhat. It's always a little difficult to sink into the world when it's radically different. And I think the Loonies's slang and cultural differences is definitely something that needs a lot of time for the reader to adjust. I guess it also helped that the seemingly-chauvinistic attitude was more of blatant appreciation. Crude on "Terra", but normal on Luna, I suppose. Like I said: culture shock. But I made my peace with these problems and found myself more enraptured by the plot. But please note, I did not like ANY of the female characters. So I might have made peace with it, doesn't mean I approved entirely.
I was definitely not expecting how much time Heinlein put into the ideology of government. It almost felt like a salute to Machiavelli's The Prince in how it describes the way to establish a revolution and then the resulting government. How to rule, one might say. I love how Heinlein put in opposing theories and then made them clash a little. The Loonies's faux Congress was fascinating in its infancy - especially because I could understand why Man gave the ultimatum to fire the yammerhead idiot, but Prof almost resigned if that happened. Freedom of speech, even for idiots, or a much-needed smackdown of idiots. Situations like that really made the book for me. Things like implementing a monarchy over democracy, or using an honest man to lie for you unknowingly, or the motivation of man and revolutions. This book was layers deep. Not just an easy story to read, unless you felt like skimming through the book. But it holds so much potential for thought. Lovely.
I also noted a lot of references from this book! "Salty" and "Simon Jester" were both like red flags when I read them. I was surprised that it stemmed from this book.
I vaguely mentioned this before, but I was really surprised at the first person dialogue. It's been a while since I've read such a first person limited, dialogue-heavy book. It's not common at all. I... was very uncomfortable with this style of writing for the first 100 pages or so. It felt clunky (and it didn't help that the slang sounds really uneducated and sloppy). But I did settle into it. It helped that Man was a person that the reader liked and wanted to succeed. Sometimes it frustrated me because I'd rather have a clever protagonist that makes the situations than one that falls into place. Mike was more the director than Man for the majority of book. But this sort of first person limited perspective made the revolution and raw emotional side of the book more realistic. It gave more impact of what kind of people (ex-convict and unwanted) were stranded on Luna. It was different. And I do think it worked quite well. And I did appreciate the obvious humor than the main character's name was Man. Ha.
I must say, though, I didn't really like Mike. It was rather cute at first when he was shyly creating his own jokes and such. And then he turned into the mover, the shaker of the story. And I prefer my main character to do the action. So I got a little bored in the middle when things were always going within his calculations. But only a little, because the next stages of revolution were quite interesting. I wish the interaction between Mike and Man was more fleshed out in the story. A couple times that Man felt annoyed at Mike... I feel like there was something underlying there. Sometimes it seems that Heinlein only put Mike there was for a computer ex machina to actually give the Loonies a fighting chance. Rather than an insight into science fiction exploration of what it means to have artificial intelligence and all of the implications it might have on humanity. But eh, I guess you can't fit everything into one book.
I think the ending was a bit of a cop out, to not let us see what would happen with a supercomputer that would potentially outlive everybody, that would be in control of everything, that could potentially grow bored.... but I suppose that is another story in itself. At least the story did wrap up quite nicely.
3.5 stars, rounded down. It was very good. But it didn't click with me. But honestly, if I were rating purely on the writing and plot and the story, I'd give it a solid 4 stars. However, I read books for enjoyment, edification, and eh some sort of resonance. The book has to resonate with me to rate it highly. I feel a little silly basing my rating just on feelings rather than statement facts, but it really didn't grip me. Is that enough reason to not give it a higher rating? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's enough for me to dock it half a star and round it down. So there's that.
Definitely recommended for those who like sci-fi (be aware it's less fantasy than modern sci-fi). Classic book.
I closed this book quietly, to just sit still for a moment and let all of the words and story wash over me until it settles softly in my thoughts. This is a difficult book to review because I could have given this book five stars. Could have, being the key words.
But I can't. Because I have too many problems with it. But ah, this book with its dark plot in shadows and the air of the femme fatale in Barcelona and the heart of a writer's soul written in black, flowing ink from a pen that might have been Victor Hugo's very own... this book... I almost don't want to talk about its problems. I just want to let words drip from the very marrow of my bones to somehow capture the feeling of the book, the colors of the words, even though anyone can see that this book was written in black ink.
That is why I loved the book. Because moments spoke to a reader's heart. This book is meant for people who love words and understand the intimate feeling of when a book is able to reflect the shadows of your heart that you might not have even realized was lingering there.
But here is where I pause and just shake my head. Because it didn't last. And that is why I couldn't give this book five stars. Because I had too many problems with the structure of the book. I am not sure if it's because it is a translation and perhaps the original language would have embraced me to its full capacity, but I could not stand the unveiling of the story.
I really did not like how most of the story told by a character reciting their story and past. It made for rather strange and awkward jumps in first person to third person narrative. It was particularly annoying because I would be caught up in this magnificent and tortuous story and then I realize that the person telling the story should have no way of knowing how another character thought. They would tell the story in first person, but share something that seemed more third person omniscient. That might sound really nit-picky, but it bothered me to the extent that I couldn't fully immerse myself into the story.
Another problem with this format of story-telling was that it was dialogue. Or should have been, if the person was telling his or her story to Daniel. But the sentences never sounded like anything a person might say. It was very much so a written sentence, not dialogue. These two points completely threw me out of the head space of the book and made me too aware that I was reading instead of feeling like I was in the character's shoes waiting to know what would happen next.
And then once I was out of the feeling of the book, I started thinking about how annoyed I was of love in this book. See? I was perfectly fine when I was feeling the character's passion and blah blah blah. But not really. How can you expect me to believe that Daniel "loves" Bea? There is nothing to confirm it. He goes from "love" for Clara to lust for Nuria, and then straight into soulmate-forever-and-beyond-and-maybe-idiocy-too for Bea. I just don't get it. I'm all for love and passion, but I wanted to see it beyond obsession. That was my major problem with love in this entire book. You can probably exchange the word "love" with "obsession" and not change anything. Was Julius and Penelope's feelings anything but obsession? Or Nuria and Julius? I am just not convinced at all.
But see here? If I don't think about it too much, I could probably let this quibble on "what is love" slide because the characters's emotional reaction are all very realistic. (It's just I don't believe the basis for their emotion, if that makes sense.)
Ah, there are just so many too-coincidental parallels too, when I start nitpicking. Discovering Julius and Penelope's love as Daniel figures out there's something with him and Bea. The silly thing with the pen. Whatever. I don't feel like nitpicking right now.
This was a lovely book and I can see why people loved it enough to give it five stars and wax poetic about it. But I just can't reconcile the structure of the book's format. So three stars it is. In some ways, it could have been five, and in others, it would have been a two. So it ends up about a three.
I've been pretty consistent with GoodReads when I first discovered it some few years ago. But then I found out that BookLikes had an open blog. And that's appealing. Really appealing. I like the idea of being able to randomly make comments about a couple of books or authors or styles that I've been noticing in an extra post. That just isn't possible in goodreads right now.
But it's always hard to juggle more than one platform. Hopefully I can figure out what goes where.
So far, in the past ten minutes I've been here ha, I'm liking it.
Here's to a good time, BookLikes!