Where does one begin?!! Yeah, it's a gushfest book for sure. Definitely straight to the favorites list.
Okay, since I've given up on stressing so much over this book babbling thing, and writing a brief, non-spoiler glimpse at the book is always so hard for me, I'm just stealing these lines from the jacket flap:
Mau is the Only one left after a giant wave sweeps his island village away. But when much is taken, something is returned, and somewhere in the jungle Daphne--a girl from the other side of the globe--is the sole survivor of a ship destroyed by the same wave.
Together the two confront the aftermath of catastrophe. Drawn by the smoke of Mau and Daphne's sheltering fire, other refugees slowly arrive...
A few of the many things I loved:
*The questioning. This aspect of the book spoke to me so much. I loved watching Mau deal with matters of faith he'd always taken for granted. I think this must be a fairly universal process when one is raised in a faith, whatever the beliefs might be. It seems everyone must reach a point where they need to question the things they've been taught as fact. For many their faith stands up to their questioning, and for others, like me, it just doesn't. But what I think is important, no matter which outcome is reached, is that the questions were asked in the first place. Due to the abrupt and catastrophic events that completely change his life, Mau is almost forced to deal with these questions. And yet his questioning never feels rushed. It feels so authentic. At first, the questions, and doubts, pop into his mind unbidden. But soon they become a second tidal wave to Mau. I won't tell you how things play out there, but I just had to say how very much I loved this part of the story.
*The writing. Okay, I admit it...I don't notice "writing" as much as I think many people do. I'm more of a tell-me-a-good-story-with-good-characters type of gal. There are exceptions...I think I could happily drown in a sea of Ray Bradbury's words. But for the most part, I'm pretty oblivious. So what was it about Terry Pratchett's writing in this book that made me take notice? I'm not sure I know exactly how to answer that. There was a simplicity that somehow managed to contain such power. He made me feel so deeply with so few words. I could literally pick out dozens and dozens of little snippets that did this to me. Just a few examples:
It rained. It was heavy rain, muddy rain, full of ash and sadness.
There were two dogs, too, and that almost broke him. The people, well, the horror was so great that his mind went blank, but the twisted bodies of the dogs twisted his soul.
They didn't know why these things were funny. Sometimes you laugh because you've got no more room for crying. Sometimes you laugh because table manners on a beach are funny. And sometimes you laugh because you're alive, when you really shouldn't be.
...And now it was two weeks later, and a lot had happened. The most important thing was that time had passed, pouring thousands of soothing seconds across the island. People need time to deal with the now before it runs away and becomes the then.
*The world. This is my first experience with a story in such a setting. It is set in the 1800s on Earth, and yet Earth is not really Earth. A parallel universe. I realize that most of you are quite familiar with this type of setting, but still being new to fantasy and science fiction, this was a fun new adventure in reading for me. The island is in the Great Southern Pelagic Ocean, which seems as if it must be in the area in which the Pacific Ocean lies. But it is not the Pacific that we know. But we are, it seems, at the same time really on Earth, because before the tragic shipwreck, Daphne went to meetings of the Royal Society with her father and met people such as Charles Darwin. As I said, I realize that many of you are probably quite used to this kind of merging of realities, but for me it was quite new. And I absolutely loved it.
*The science. And if you haven't read it, and aren't big on science, please don't let that scare you. No, this wasn't full of scientific facts and figures. But without beating one over the head, it beautifully emphasized the importance of science. And that's just something I feel passionate about. (Brief unimportant note: Though I thoroughly love Daphne, I am going to have to disagree with her a bit on her ranking of scientists. ;) )
*The humor. My goodness, but Sir Pratchett is a gifted man. Understatement, I know. As I was reading this, Rich asked me if it was a funny book. (He still has the experience of his first Terry Pratchett book to look forward to.) I tried to explain to him that, yes, it definitely was, but at the same time it was so deeply meaningful. He said, "So he's like Vonnegut?" I hadn't linked those two in my mind before that, and while they are very different writers, I was immediately drawn to the comparison. I know my reading experience is not nearly as broad as it is for many, but there are no two other authors I've read who so effectively use humor to express the most profound truths, to dig through the layers and get to what matters in this life.
*The depth. Yes, I found myself smiling, even giggling, throughout this book, I also found myself awed. I don't want to say too much and give anything away, but wow...this book just gets to the heart of being human. And while I smiled, I also cried. Sometimes over things so big it's hard to shrink them into mere words. Other times, what I cried over was easier to grasp. There was one short passage that so simply, and yet so heartbreakingly, conveyed the tragedy of colonialism that I just had tears streaming down my face. I guess what I mean to say is that if you read this book, be prepared to feel.
Hmmm...I just read over what I've written here. And while I stand by everything I've said, I know I haven't conveyed the sheer awesomeness of this book. Know that that is my fault, not the fault of the book itself.
And for other perspectives:
*Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot
*Valentina at Valentina's Room
*Chris at Stuff As Dreams Are Made On
*Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf
*Kailana at The Written World
*Bart from Bart's Bookshelf
*Shelley at ChainReading
*Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog
*Melissa at Book Nut
*Darla D at Books & Other Thoughts
If I missed your review, accept my sincere apologies. And then leave me a link in the comments, and I'll add it above. Thanks.