Monday, July 18, 2011

Epitaph Road by David Patneaude

The Book Talk:

The Review:  

I'm a sucker for dystopian literature.  If a book is about a futuristic/alternate society where things aren't perfect, I'm probably going to read it no matter what it's about.  Epitaph Road is the book I chose for the middle school book group I'm running at the library I work for, because I wanted to choose a good middle school appropriate dystopia that could get them talking.

One of the most important aspects of a dystopian novel, for me, is the world-building.  In order for an oppressive society to believable, the world in which it is set has to be well constructed and vividly imagined.  I enjoyed the basic concept of the world in this book.  It was an interesting idea to play with a society that is mostly run by women (one that I thought was very well done in the adult graphic novel Y: The Last Man).  There are glimpses of great world building in Epitaph Road, but overall it was less vivid than I wanted it to be.   There's a little history lesson embedded in the story that gives some background on the way the world came to be, but I never really felt immersed.   It also felt a little odd to me that the main character, a male, did generally seem to agree with the fact that a society with only 5% men was better than one with a 50/50 gender ratio (women can live safely, FINALLY!).  Basically, the idea was interesting, but the world and its concept could have been better and more clearly executed.

I felt kind of the same way about everything else in this book, actually -- like it was about halfway to where it needed to be.  The action and the setting was a little muddy (I just had a hard time picturing what was happening), and the characters were just not that interesting.  A lot of terrible things happen to people in this book, and I never really felt like I got to know any of them well enough to care about their well-being and their relationships with each other.  I did enjoy the voice of the main character (David Patneaude does not dumb down the text, which is nice), but I to know more about the differences in personality between Tia and Sunday, the two main female characters (to me, they really seemed like the same person).

Overall, not a bad dystopia, but not one of my favorites either.  I wanted more clear realization of the world and its characters, but the overall sad mood of the book really did take me in and make me think.  I would recommend this book  for 6th graders and older who like books like Gone and The Hunger Games.   I know a lot of other people enjoyed this book, so I'd love to hear other opinions!

Random side note:  David Patneaude is actually coming to my middle school book group at the library tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to what he says about his novel.  Maybe my opinion'll change a bit once I've heard him speak!

1 comment:

  1. Nice shirt! :) Also, I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the characters. (I also think that the omission of certain logical conclusions of a society with so few men in it were pretty glaring and made it hard to find the world believable. It didn't need to be The L Word or anything--regardless of what I personally believe, I get that people think that some things are "inappropriate" for this age group--but lez be honest here...)