oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen


I finished Patrick Cave's Sharp North over the weekend. The book came out in the UK in 2004; I read the hardcover American edition from this year. It's sf and published as Young Adult, though it could easily have been an adult book as well.

Summary without real spoilers: Setting is Britain, after global warming has raised water levels and cooled temperatures. Many people seem to be dispossessed, though we don't see many of them; we start out with Mira, a girl who lives in Scotland in a small community dedicated to energy production. Mira finds out there is something odd about her origins, and that she has a "watcher" in the village. (No, not like on Buffy!) She escapes, makes a dangerous journey and makes dangerous decisions, finally arriving in London, which is ruled mostly by a few families who dominate various industries. We are then introduced to a couple of scions of one of those families, and it's clear they're going to be major figures in book two, Blown Away.

I found it gripping, more like a thriller than an sf novel, though the setting was always present, always alien. I especially loved the first section, with travel across the snowy wastes of Scotland, and the last section, across warm, flooded France. The other major sfnal idea in the book seemed more of a Plot Generator than a detailed exploration of the idea's effects. Also, I was somewhat disappointed in the ending, not because it wasn't a good ending in the literary sense, but because it didn't go the way I'd hoped. Which was also one of the best things about this book--on several occasions, the heroine behaved in a way I did not predict, or did not seriously predict.

The two main sfnal elements were the post-global warming setting and the use of human cloning. I don't think he did anything brilliant with cloning; except for a couple of major plot twists, Mira might as well have been genetically enhanced or a carrier of a disease as a clone, and most of the plot could have been the same.

The part I didn't like was that, in the end, Mira is killed and her "twin" Clarissa takes over her task. We'd been shown Clarissa growing and changing in the last section of the book, clearly being set up for more, but I liked Mira, and it annoyed me that I wouldn't get to read about her any more. I wondered if perhaps Mira "had to" die because she'd killed a man, and thought she'd killed another, even though the killings were part of her escapes from what she thought would be death? I also felt that Mira's happy afternoon with the cute boy Aziz, just before her final capture, was a sop, like, "she died, but she had a nice time first!" Her death made all her strivings, in which I'd become so involved, feel useless. Which may be like real life, but wouldn't have been what I as a teenager would have been looking for in a story.

Also, Mira's death meant that conflict between her and Clarissa because of their separate upbringings couldn't figure into the story any more, which seems like a waste, if cloning is one of your two major ideas.

Or I'm just a happy ending junkie.

Tags: books, sf/f, ya

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