Anthony Doerr’s lyrical work of fiction tells the stories of two interconnected young people during World War II. Marie-Laure is a blind French girl who flees Paris with her father when it is bombed by the Nazis, and goes to live with her agoraphobic uncle Etienne in Saint-Malo. Etienne’s main solace in life is using his radio to broadcast music and the recordings of his dead brother, until the time comes when all radios are confiscated and owning a radio is punishable by death.
In Germany, as Hitler is rising rapidly to power, the orphan boy Werner has a special gift with technology, and is able to fix broken radios swiftly and accurately. He is selected to attend an elite school for Hitler’s Youth, and given special training with radio technologies until he is sent to work for the Reich to find those using illegal radios.
Doerr skillfully weaves the stories of Werner and Marie-Laure through various time periods, with plenty of headings to make the novel flow seamlessly for the reader. I found the novel a pleasure to read, despite being true to the horrors of war. I was definitely late to the game in reading All the light we cannot see, but as they say….better late than never!
It’s not hard to see why the action driven post-apocalyptic science fiction novel Wool became a New York Times bestseller, even though author Hugh Howey originally self-published the book. No need to “pull the wool over your eyes” here (yes, I’m punny), this novel keeps the reader enthralled from the first page until the very end.
We follow Juliet as she unravels the mysteries of her world, limited to a giant Silo, while battling a rather typical nemesis who would rather commit murder than let any secrets slip to the masses. Some features of Wool are rather typical of the genre such as the premise of the world gone terribly wrong but no need to explain further, as well as the precarious prognosis for the sustainability of future generations. But then there is the rather original setting: the Silo!
There are plenty of unanswered questions after reading the book; the good news is that Wool is the first novel in a series.
In Emily St. John Mandel’s dystopian fiction novel “Station Eleven”, most of the world’s population has died from a pandemic, and 20 years later, the survivors are struggling to stay alive. The novel’s heroine Kirsten is an actress in a travelling symphony with relatively predictable routines until the day they have a catastrophic encounter with a so-called prophet and his disciples…
Interconnected characters from the past and the dystopian future are cleverly intertwined in Station Eleven, culminating in an ending that comes full circle. St. John Mandel did not emphasize the survival skills and gratuitous violence common to other dystopian novels, although I still had occasional urges to run to the grocery store to stock up on nonperishable food items. If you want a character-driven, quintessential Canadian dystopian novel, “Station Eleven” will seem deserving of its many accolades, including the 2015 Toronto Book Award.