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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, January 2014: Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea is a fascinating read, in part due to the dueling instincts of the novel. The world-building is first-rate, but there is an overall feeling of allegory to the book. There is brutality in nearly every chapter, but Lee writes with such grace and skill that I often found myself just reading for the pleasure of his words. Set in a dystopian future America, where “New Chinese” have populated certain urban centers like Baltimore and Detroit, On Such a Full Sea is the story of Fan, a gifted diver who abandons the relative safety of her city to search for her disappeared boyfriend in the more lawless parts of the country. The story is narrated by a nameless voice from Baltimore (or B-Mor, as it is called in the novel), and that conceit allows the author to interject observations and commentary into the story that might otherwise seem phony. As we journey with the unassuming but strong-willed Fan, and as details are deftly revealed, Chang-Rae Lee succeeds in weaving a mesmerizing tale while revealing truths about such wide-ranging subjects as social stratification, technology, estrangement, and the reasons we tell stories. --Chris Schluep
*Starred Review* Lee (The Surrendered, 2010), always entrancing and delving, has taken fresh approaches to storytelling in each of his previous four novels, but he takes a truly radical leap in this wrenching yet poetic, philosophical, even mystical speculative odyssey. B-Mor is a rigorously ordered labor settlement founded in what used to be Baltimore by refugees from impossibly polluted New China. They grow stringently regulated food for the elite, who live in gated “charter” villages, surrounded by “open counties,” in which civilization has collapsed under the assaults of a pandemic and an ever-harsher climate. In a third-person plural narrative voice that perfectly embodies the brutal and wistful communities he portrays, Lee tells the mythic story of young, small, yet mighty Fan, a breath-held diver preternaturally at home among the farmed fish she tends to. When her boyfriend inexplicably disappears, Fan escapes from B-Mor to search for him, embarking on a daring, often surreal quest in a violent, blighted world. She encounters a taciturn healer bereft of all that he cherished, a troupe of backwoods acrobats, and a disturbing cloister of girls creating an intricate mural of their muffled lives. Lee brilliantly and wisely dramatizes class stratification and social disintegration, deprivation and sustenance both physical and psychic, reflecting, with rare acuity, on the evolution of legends and how, in the most hellish of circumstances, we rediscover the solace of art. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Literary best-seller Lee will reach an even larger readership with this electrifying postapocalyptic novel as he tours the country in conjunction with an all-points media and publicity drive. --Donna SeamanSee all Editorial Reviews
I made it through more than half of this dreadful book only because the writer isn't terrible but the story is. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Nathan Schauer
WARNING: Mild spoilers below.
I remember reading a review of Dean Koontz's "The Taking" at one point, where he stated that "every writer has an... Read more
Weak. Verbose meandering, no real character development - not good when you're developing a protagonist. Who is the narrator? Read morePublished 1 month ago by R. Weiss
One of the best novels I've read in some time. It is so unusual -- there's no way you can guess what's coming. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Susan K. Noel
This novel is elegantly and uniquely written. The language and narrative is almost lyrical but uniquely written from the perspective of an omniscient observer of Fan, the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This is a good story. A chance to see what the future could be like if we truly developed into nations controlled by the very wealthy. Read morePublished 1 month ago by sunshine rider
Well written as one would expect from an author of this stature and brimming with reflections on the disturbing state of our present and future world.Published 2 months ago by Nancy Mitchell
This is a piece of...speculative fiction about a love story of a very well adjusted (Despite the dystopian wasteland thing) couple who have a nice little bond at work and go fo... Read morePublished 2 months ago by WeedingWainbow