Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tea Time: Love in the Time of Global Warming

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

Love in the Time of Global Warming (Love in the Time of Global Warming #1), Francesca Lia Block

Her life by the sea in ruins, Pen has lost everything in the Earth Shaker that all but destroyed the city of Los Angeles. She sets out into the wasteland to search for her family, her journey guided by a tattered copy of Homer’s Odyssey. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead. On her voyage, Pen learns to tell stories that reflect her strange visions, while she and her fellow survivors navigate the dangers that lie in wait. In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated. (source:goodreads)

Narrative-This book is told from the first-person POV in the perspective of our gutsy main character, Pen. Most notable is the way the grammar and syntax echo an actual voice: occasionally, I caught what I'm pretty sure are run-on sentences, yet they mesh so well with the surrounding statements that instead of being tedious, they felt natural to read.

The book also is told in a series of present scenes and flashbacks; almost once per chapter Pen's remembering events that happened before the Earth Shaker. Occasionally, this did get tedious, but I found it curious how the flashbacks both related in some way to the present event that it's paired with, and also how the flashbacks reveal something about Pen that we wouldn't otherwise know. I'm definitely going to have to read this book again just for this style of storytelling, because it made it interesting, and was probably the piece of the novel that most kept me reading.

Plot-To dive right in, I really enjoyed half of this novel, and the other half I spent quite a bit confused. The beginning is great: it covers the exact moment Pen was separated from her family, her efforts to survive on her own, even after her house is looted. The end is just as good: Pen's finally figured out just how brave and strong she is, and I truly admired her starting the moment she lost her eye (yep, that happened).

It was the middle that had me in a state of confusion. As she presses on through what's left of L.A. and meets some rather charming and fantastic young people who join her, the similarities between this novel and THE ODYSSEY were a bit too strong for me. I love books that retell old tales, or so something to breathe new life to them, but the way this book followed the exact path of THE ODYSSEY (yes, it says in the pitch that the book is her guide; I thought it would be more guide-like instead of an almost mirror-image), without any clear indication of why there was suddenly so much magic in a previously ordinary world (the giants were explained; not much else was), I was confused.

Everything else was phenomenal, though. The relationships between the characters, and the way they relied on each other and their survival to help them along the path of self-discovery, was extremely well done. In the end, I really did enjoy the novel, although the general consensus of my brain was that there was a bit of a bumpy ride.

Still, worth reading if you love adventure and danger. There was a lot of that.

Characters-I absolutely adored all of the main characters in this novel. Pen, Hex, Ez, and Ash are all social misfits; in fact, this book was actually brought to my attention due to another blogger recommending it for its themes of diversity (and I apologize, I can't remember which blog I saw this book on). All of these characters are queer in some way: lesbian, transgender, gay. A major arc of the book was actually about Pen struggling with her identity: she knew she was a lesbian when she started to crush on one of her friends, and when she met Hex her ideas about who she was became extremely mixed up until she found out that Hex used to be Lex It was actually Hex who encouraged her to be more brave, as well; who taught her that she doesn't have to be perfect, but she's still loved and she's still extremely capable, even after the world ended.

What was so great about the way these characters were portrayed is that it's not over the top, it's not overdone. In this time when many in the publishing industry are pushing for more diverse books, LOVE IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING delivers without making the book entirely about gender and sexual identities. And it's beautiful.

Final Answer: 3.66 / 5 stars

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@Rae_Slater calls LOVE IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING @francescablock "beautiful'. Read the review (Click to Tweet)

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