Eccentric Musings (jakaEM)

"I have undergone sharp discipline which has taught me wisdom; and then, I have read more than you would fancy." Emily Brontë


still figuring this place out - Jen W

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Friend of My Youth
Alice Munro
Progress: 115/288 pages
Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
Margaret Atwood
Eifelheim - Michael Flynn ETA (12/28/12): this one stayed and stayed and stayed with me. Thus, I'm raising it to a five-star book, from my previous waffling and dithering "hovering between three and four for this - so I will think about it for a while" - and this equivocating review.

The Good: unique first contact premise. Making the Krenkish human enough to spark empathy, but still alien enough to be ... alien, and yet believable. The history. The up-close-and-personal look at how the plague devastated communities (yuck. and sad.) The poke at history v. science as a means of truth and fact-finding. The compassion; the selflessness - Dietrich's for the Krenkish; the Krenkish for the Eifelheimers during the plague.

The Not-so-Good: the "coincidence" that joins the two timelines is completely unbelievable. And how much was "undeveloped" - the relationship between Judy and Tom, e.g., which was supposed to provide some kind/enough friction between Tom and what's-her-face, his partner - the physics prof - to keep that timeline interesting. It wasn't. Dietrich's back story (anti-climactic, as was the special "tea" the Krenkish were drinking -- both of those should have prompted horror; instead, they were foreshadowed so much, and tossed off so casually when the time came for the big reveal, they fell flat. The "I" in the narration - who? why? I may have missed something here.

The Plodding: the physics bits - well, maybe that's just me. Some of the 14th C politics -- not enough to add to the story in any real way, but enough that it bogged the plot down.

The Unexpectedly Great: the portrayal of the Middle-Agers in the midst of technological advancement - caught between two worlds, literally! - and their mode of inquiry into the world around them as sophisticated and nuanced. Nice myth-busting, there. The lovely contrast between Fr. Joachim and Fr. Dietrich and their priestly styles. And, not an elf to be found anywhere.

If you've read and enjoyed [b:The Sparrow|334176|The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)|Mary Doria Russell||3349153] and/or [b:The Doomsday Book|1275934|The Doomsday Book|Elizabeth Hallam||1264906], you will like this one.