Monday, June 16, 2008

Book Review: White Time by Margo Lanagan

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book reviews.
In the collection White Time, Lanagan writes with a clear, distinctive style that's not spoon-feeding but rather challenges the reader in a good way. Her text is multi-layered and works on multiple levels, at the same time narrating an interesting speculative fiction story whether it's using the tropes of science fiction or fantasy. This book features ten stories and each is unique and different. The feature story, "White Time", is the opener for this publication and Lanagan combines a strong sci-fi concept with grounded, complex characters. In fact, this piece sets the mood for the rest as it shows that one of Lanagan's strengths is writing compelling characters and human drama. Another favorite is "The Boy Who Didn't Yearn" which takes place in an urban setting except for the fact that the protagonist has a particular trait that sets her apart from other people. Again, character is Lanagan's biggest asset in this story as she establishes the personal conflict of the protagonist. The ambiguity of the ending is warranted and justified, giving it an atmosphere of surrealism. The last story I want to draw attention to is "Wealth" which is the most "conventional" story in the collection yet it tugs the reader at all the right places despite the alien setting. What impressed me with White Time is how it's a good example of a short story collection that dares to be different and unique yet at the same time is grounded by character. Lanagan combines style and technique to deliver an interesting read that's both exciting and literary.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

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