Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Though it has something that approximates a happy ending, this is not a happy book.

In fact, it’s quite tricksy. It starts as rainbows and sunshine. Indeed, it starts as extremely well executed rainbows and sunshine. There’s an infectious happiness that lasts for pages and pages.

And then suddenly stops. I actually had to put the book down for about a week at one major point because it was all just too upsetting.

Which, I suppose for a book which is trying to completely disassemble a character so she can put herself back together…well, that level of upsettingness is probably something to be lauded.

And this book really is excellent. It’s a compelling study in contrast: it’s happy and depressing, it’s dark and light, it’s joyful and sorrowful — all at the same time.

In particular, I found Eskridge’s description of absolute, unending, unyielding solitude to be the stuff of nightmares. I’ve always enjoyed being alone. Eskeridge made me fear it.

So…well done?

At any rate, this is excellent near-future sci-fi. In a literary fashion, it stands up with some of the best books I’ve read. And its examination of how we would so callously push forward on investing in new technology with no thought to the consequences to our test subjects (especially when those test subjects are “marginal” criminals) is the sort of ethical treatment that sci-fi has always excelled at.

I’m about to use the word “excellent” again: this is an excellent book that should probably be on just about everyone’s reading list.

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