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"How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals" by Sy Montgomery
“This is a beautiful book — essential reading for anyone who loves animals and knows how much they can teach us about being human.” — Gwen Cooper, author of "Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat" Pre-order today
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This science fiction/dystopian novel has some good elements, in regards to the plot, but the characters are not developed enough for readers to get a clear sense as to their identities. The bleak world is well described, as readers will be able to imagine the region and its desolation. The author does a good job drawing the characters together for a common goal, but really does not convince the reader that the events could have unfolded in the manner for which they did. It just did not seem in Ava's nature, especially, to enter into a highly dangerous situation so willingly. Valerie has some good qualities, but some of the choices she makes do not seem in keeping with her characterization. In an effort to keep the plot moving forward, the author loses sight of the characters to a large extent. The story has good bones, but could be made better with a more fleshed out plot and more character development. Survival is a fast read, so it is one that readers who like science fiction/dystopian can complete at a day at the beach.
I voluntarily read and reviewed this book, being under no obligation to give my opinion.
Enter the two protagonists; Valerie works in the Scylla labs for the corporation and discovers an unspeakable secret about experiments carried out on unfortunates extracted from the general populace. Ava works at a bar in the Bosch. Her sister, Sophia has disappeared. She comes to suspect that Scylla have abducted her for their experiments. All her enquiries reach dead ends or dire warnings about her investigating further.
These two meet up when the unlikely pair are thrown together after the Scylla pay a visit to the bar where Ava works, looking for Valerie. Valerie escapes detection but it soon becomes clear they must both cover their tracks while trying to get to the bottom of their respective mysteries.
As they try to evade the eyes of Scylla’s almost omnipresent personnel, we are given a glimpse of the world in which they live. A local economy of noodle bars and squid fisheries supports the upper social classes while the poor try to eke out a living. The rich, meanwhile. ensconce themselves in their enclaves. This is a truly divided society.
The tale moves on to Ava and Valerie’s infiltration of the Scylla complex and their exposure of the Corporation’s experiments and machinations. To describe any more of the plot is to give away spoilers so I’ll leave it at that.
The author has created an immersive and absorbing world in which to place her characters, and this to me was the strength of the story. The plot itself is a bit Star-Wars like. There’s an evil empire/oppressive government and a woman who escapes with important data. There’s a resistance/activist movement too. But no death star. That said, there’s enough here to separate Ava and Valerie’s story from that of Skywalker and Leia Organa. Occasionally the motivations and decisions the characters make seem a little contrived but, to counter this there are enough surprises to keep the reader on their toes.
At first I found Ava and Valerie hard to differentiate between in terms of their character, but as the story developed they took on their own personas and had me rooting for them as the closing chapter came.
This first offering shows great promise and I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from Rachel Watts in the future.
Ava works at a bar in the rough area of town and has been trying to find her sister who disappeared. When a strange woman shows up in her work place, who obviously doesn't belong, Ava decides to help her because maybe she knows what happened to her sister, Sophie. It's a vivid story, with some twists that are surprising, but worth the time to read. I recommend this book.