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On Such a Full Sea: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 369 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
In this book, Lee has a detailed a grim, dystopian future, clearly drawing on the major issues of our day--pollution, income inequality, disease, lack of opportunity and more. The world he has created is rigidly stratified, with the wealthy Charters at the top--those who have all the opportunities and wealth, those in self-contained labor settlements, formerly major U.S. cities, whose purpose is to provide the Charters with food, and those who must fend for themselves in the counties. The heroine, Fan, is from one of the labor settlements, B-Mor, which it quickly becomes apparent was once Baltimore. The labor settlements are populated by the descendants of the "originals," who were brought over from China. There is almost no upward mobility for anyone except the Charters; however, once in a while someone from the settlements, who does exceptionally well on tests, will be plucked away and placed in a Charter community, as Fan's brother had been many years earlier.
Fan, at 16, is an exceptionally good diver, able to hold her breath longer than anyone and responsible for cleaning the fish tanks that produce seafood for the Charters. She's in love with Reg, who works in the greenhouses. In Lee's futuristic world, cancer (C-illness) is ubiquitous--everyone develops it at some point--except Reg, who for reasons unknown, seems to be impervious. One day, he disappears, and Fan does the unthinkable--she leaves B-Mor in search of him. The rest of the book is an account of her adventures, with people in the counties and the Charters.Read more ›
Briefly, this is a story that explores class relationships in a future society, specifically the relationship between lower and upper class Westerners and lower-middle class Asians. There isn't much science behind this fiction - it's definitely more soft SF than hard. It is written by a Princeton writing professor who clearly believes that science fiction needs more pretentiousness in its writing. The story starts awkwardly, settles into a nice enough rhythm in which we follow the eventful life of an uneventful character, and ends somewhat unexpectedly.
Once I got into it, it held my attention, but I was ultimately disappointed, especially with the lack of character development and the unimportance of the near future setting. It did have some of the whimsical feel of Murakami, and I'd recommend The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Kafka on the Shore. It also had some of the depth of Nicola Griffith's early work (Ammonite, Slow River). I would recommend any of those works over this one.
If you found this review unhelpful, please leave a comment to help me understand why. I didn't want to give away too much of the plot but I'm happy to give more details if that would be helpful.
This is a glimpse of the world of Chang-rae Lee’s ON SUCH A FULL SEA, a novel set in a future dystopia that seems, at first, a great departure for him. Yet, although Lee here takes his first crack at speculative fiction, he still preoccupies himself with those themes that have served him so well for so long --- hope, will, betrayal, knowledge, regret --- in a setting reflecting our own, only eerily, near-apocalyptically stretched.
The novel’s narrator is a collective one: an ever-shifting group of unnamed inhabitants of a fishing labor settlement called B-Mor (once Baltimore), founded by emigrants from New China, who left to escape the pollution destroying their countryside. B-Mors are members of the second-tier of a rigid, three-tier class system that stretches worldwide. Although the dwellers of such settlements are lower than the powerful, ambitious residents of the wealthy Charter villages, they remain safer and better off than the denizens of the vastly numerous surrounding counties.
The B-Mors tell, reflectively, the story of Fan, a gifted 16-year-old fish-tank diver whose world is shattered instantly when her lover, Reg, disappears one afternoon without a trace.Read more ›
What I couldn't stand about the book was the way it was told. The main characters, Fan and Reg never get to speak for themselves. Everything is observed by an omniscient narrator who was a part of Fan and Reg' working class community called B-Mor. This distance, while underscoring the loneliness of their regimented and suppressed lives makes it hard to really care about the characters. I got very tired of the narrator's voice even while being impressed with the insight they provided.
The writing itself is beautiful, at times even lyrical, but the overall distance from the characters left me cold.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sixteen year-old Fan had no intention of sparking a movement on the day she left the SuperCorp run city of B-More for the untamed “counties” of a post-apocalyptic United States. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Amy Deringer Robinson
I honestly was just too confused and bored to understand this book. I couldn't even force myself to read it.Published 1 month ago by Katherine
Chang-rae Lee has realized a perfect dystopian reflection of the future. His characters are engaging. His descriptions and stylistic choices are creatively fulfilling. Read morePublished 2 months ago by KRJC
This is a very unusual read -- a rare entry in the dystopic realist genre (or so I'll dub it). Lee is a terrific writer, and this book is, from start to...near finish... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Librum
No, I'm not giving out information about the story. You want to know about the quality of his writing, or how it engages your attention? Read morePublished 4 months ago by Katheryne Hooper
When America as a whole takes the plunge economically China comes in and colonizes it. A teen girl from a factory village is missing her boyfriend, and decides to go find him among... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Matthew Robert Leroe
I made it through more than half of this dreadful book only because the writer isn't terrible but the story is. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Nathan Schauer
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