Science-fiction writers attempting coming-of-age stories have seldom risked showing the stew of loneliness, anger, and angst that really characterizes adolescence. Jonathan Lethem, on the other hand, avoids the plucky sidekick syndrome and instead gives us breathtakingly realistic Pella Marsh, a girl at that awful and wonderful crux in her life just before people start calling her "woman." Her broken family has just moved to a newly settled planet, with strange and passive natives and the decaying remnants of a great civilization. Something in the alien environment soon enables Pella to telepathically travel, hidden in the bodies of inconspicuous "household deer," into the homes of her fellow settlers. She inevitably discovers the seamy side of humanity--loss of innocence eloquently portrayed. Don't read this book on a dark day, as there's not very much sunshine in here. The entire planet is covered with ruins: ruined towns, ruined hopes and dreams, ruined families. For a rare dose of SF realism, this is a fantastic read, full of raw (but not explicit) sexuality and the unhappy hierarchies of childhood. Forget about cheerful settlers moving in next door to helpful indigenous life forms. This is what the planetary frontiers will be. No matter how far away from Earth we may travel, we'll still be the same dirty, disappointing, beautiful monsters. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A surrealistic bildungsroman about a teenage girl unfolds among the ruins and frontier violence of a distant planet in Lethem's latest genre-bending exploration of science, landscape and the metaphysics of love and loss. As the novel opens, Pella Marsh, age 13, sets out from her subterranean home in a post-apocalyptic New York City for a final visit to Coney Island with her two younger brothers and her mother, Caitlin?all sealed in bodysuits to keep out the cancerous sun. Pella's father, Clement, has just been swept out of elective office in New York and has set his sights on the next political frontier: joining the first human settlers on the Planet of the Archbuilders. When Caitlin suddenly succumbs to a brain tumor, Clement whisks the grieving children by space ship to the faraway planet. Once the domain of a super-evolved alien species who used "viruses" to alter their ecosystem before abandoning it, the planet is now a hothouse landscape of ruined towers and refuse inhabited only by skittery, mouselike "household deer" and a few remaining Archbuilders?gentle, druidic creatures with furry, tendrilled, exoskeletal bodies and names like "Gelatinous Stand." Clement's mission, to forge a community that embraces the Archbuilders, puts him on a collision course with Ephram Nugent, a xenophobic homesteader who so closely resembles John Ford's John Wayne that one keeps expecting him to call Clement "Pilgrim." Lethem (As She Climbed Across the Table, 1997, etc.) affectingly chronicles Pella's tumultuous journey through puberty and loss and the knockabout society of children thrown together by their homesteading parents. As a result, this lyrical, often far-fetched meditation on the founding myths of the 21st century remains thoroughly rooted in an emotional world much closer to home. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I don't typically write reviews, but I felt compelled to do so in this case in order to save others the letdown that I experienced. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jeff Inman
Three and 1/2. Not bad not great. Very interesting concept but some characterizations were lacking and the plot was a little jumpy. Decent enough read.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
Lethem does it again. He takes a genre or two and warps them with style and resonance. I finished this book 7 months ago and the images still run through my memory on a regular... Read morePublished 12 months ago by pickyshopper
Girl in Landscape seems to deliver science fiction in a world which many baby boomers would associate with television's Lost in Space. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Miami Bob
I want to mention, but skip over aspects of Girl in landscape likely to be covered by other reviewers. Read morePublished on December 9, 2010 by Scott Rawlings
Reminiscent of a much darker version of Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky, which is a much better book in so many ways, this is a painfully dreary story of a 13-year-old girl who loses... Read morePublished on July 16, 2010 by Dave Deubler
This was my first Lethem book. I was drawn in by the inside flap... "post-apocalyptic" yes, please! "sexual awakening" oooooh fun, "new planet" interesting.... Read morePublished on April 20, 2010 by Tina Radi
For much of the first half of his career, Jonathan Lethem seemed to specialize in taking established genres and spinning them into something else entirely - for instance, read Gun,... Read morePublished on January 18, 2010 by Josh Mauthe