For those of us who love both literature and science fiction, very few books satisfy both appetites. Science fiction books can be imaginative and have excellent pacing, but rarely are they beautifully written. If you’ve ever wanted to read a post-apocalyptic piece that doesn’t focus on zombies and the end of civilization, but instead focuses on hope and a clearly imagined depopulated world, now is your chance.
I can’t remember the last good genre fiction I read without a romance at its center. Mandel focuses on the relationships between family and friends here instead of the ever-present love triangle. Romantic relationships do occur, but they are usually evaluated in retrospect, and with an eye to how they changed the characters. Mandel also offers another rarely seen phenomenon in genre fiction: the strong, feminine female lead. she gives us Miranda, an artist who repents nothing and loves the symmetry of her day job. The book largely revolves around Miranda, and the objects she owns and creates, but she remains out of sight just enough to leave her mostly a mystery – which is a shame, because I could read whole books about her.
On top of everything, on top of not succumbing to the trendy love triangle, on top of writing a spectacular female lead, on top of her beautiful writing, on top of blending literature with science fiction, Mandel also integrates an imaginary book into her plot, in the modern form of a graphic novel. I am just so thankful that this book exists.