My fourth NaNoWriMo in 5 years: this time, a new-adult backcountry-skiing non-romance.
Yeah, I'll work on the marketing... after I edit.
Musings on writing, reading, parenting, and society
Yeah, love wasn't enough. It makes me wonder how this is classified as romance (it is according to the title page). I guess because the two love interests end up together, even though it isn't happy ever after.
Emotions: I *sobbed* through the death scene. Something very much working there.
I was not mad about the outcome. My guess is that the author gave us enough hints so that I figured it out. First, on a message board, a quad tells her she shouldn't be trying to change Will's mind. Second, there are the rugby parents. And then finally Lou's own mother is so against it that Lou ends up arguing, backing up Will's opinion and his right to make the decision.
In the end, I wouldn't have cried about the ending if I didn't care about Lou.
Analyzing her character to find out why I care:
There are some interweaving of plot and character, ranked here from effective to pointless to negative:
I was put off by all the character changes early on. Maybe I've just absorbed the writing "rules" that you shouldn't abandon characters, you shouldn't start with characters who won't show up (barely) again, you should have your characters eventually meet. But my emotional reaction shows me that these rules are there for a reason. I felt disappointed when the initial character was clearly left behind. I felt frustrated when a four-person spaceship crew that I had struggled to get to know all or mostly abandoned their captain. Maybe it is realistic that not everyone would stay but I had an aversion to getting to know the new crew when my previous investment had been squandered.
There was a bit of hope when a long-ago character, who had seemed very important and indeed is where the title comes from, turns out to live long enough to potentially meet up with the current characters. There was hope that two people who'd both lost their lovers long ago would end up together. These hopes were destroyed in a nuclear-type reaction at the end. Very unsatisfying.
Another source of dissatisfaction was with the timing. One of the main questions is finally answered around 70%, but the character very selfishly doesn't do anything about it for a while. Maybe this is realistic but it made me mad at him and wanting to skip ahead to when something interesting happens.
The author's use of language and the sci fi of his world are definitely unique. He turns nouns into verbs and makes up great tech: near-FTL travel is done by folding into the pocket and riding celestial currents that have names. Time dilation is real and affects people's lives profoundly (at least at the beginning). The ships are piloted with cat's cradles. Cool stuff like that. (There is a chance I just don't know that this is common in these kinds of stories!)
I also appreciated how many non-heterosexual relationships there were without any mention or need to use identity words. Very much just a "this is how the world is."
And overall it is a thumbs up because hey, I finished it! Granted, it was my only book while camping for two weeks (thanks to having left my kindle on a plane, unexpectedly returned by Delta's great lost and found system), which basically forced me to get over my annoyance at the loss of main characters so early. By then I was invested enough, and hopeful enough, to carry on. But it was worth reading.
Not a very sympathetic protagonist: A human who does the least possible work in order to maximize their TV viewing time is pretty annoying. It helped a little that she is a bot, because then it is a novelty really, but it still interfered with me wanting to cheer for her. What I did find sympathetic is how ashamed she seemed to be about her identity and her past. Again this was unexpected for a robot which is probably what makes these books such a big deal right now.
Another complaint: when she does find a group of people who don't have a negative bias toward her, there's no explanation for why they are different from everyone else in their culture. How much stronger would it have been if the protagonist could have converted them onto her side?
Finally, [spoiler alert], I was dissatisfied with the ending. It seems to be setting up to have an interesting sequel rather than providing a satisfying conclusion. I haven't analyzed the text to see how much it fits with the Heroine's journey, but another guess is that the author didn't recognize how a strong ending could be that the protagonist stays with her found family, and instead pushed her to become the independent, solitary hero that we are so often told is the only option.
As for what I liked, the overall point is that I managed to finish the book so these days that's a strong positive. As small craft positive was that the injury the protagonist suffers at the beginning was a great device for describing her physicality.
I don't remember what led me to put this on my library hold list, but other than not being speculative, it has strong similarities to my current work-in-progress (aka the moon novel). Dual timelines, with one character known to die from the beginning. Grief in the 'after' timeline. But it is basically a murder mystery, which I don't usually read.
Overall, I liked it. I stayed in bed an hour this morning reading the ending because there were some major twists. I was really happy that I hadn't identified the killer, and even happier with the final twist.