Even if you've had your head buried in the sand (like me) you've likely heard of this book. Which explains my disappointment when I heard it was going to be featured in the next Indiespensable shipment (ugh, hype and all that jazz.) Fortunately, those kind folks did an incredible job putting together a fun package - the best one recently - beautiful hardback, purty dust jacket, lovely slipcase, "survival" goodies. Okay, maybe I wasn't miffed after all.
And now, on with the book, right? The premise is interesting: a California girl and her family try to adjust to the one global calamity they had never considered, as the earth's rotation begins to slow. Sounds science-fictiony, yet - as my husband declared - The Book Is Way Too Short To Explain Everything...it's really more about the people, how they adjust and react. Sounds like my sort of thing after all!
There was a lot that I enjoyed about this book. I found the writing to be enjoyable, the premise piqued my interest throughout the book. However, there were a lot of little things that bugged me, making this more of an "enjoyable reading experience" rather than a "wonderful book". Let's bullet-point this:
- The ages of the kids seemed incompatible with their behavior. These were 11 year-old kids acting like 14 year-olds (parties & other behavior) and I had to keep reminding myself of their ages. (And before you say that's how it is now and declare me out of touch with reality, keep in mind that I have an 8, 11, 13, and 16 year old and we live Southern California. I should be able to identify.)
- As if California didn't already have enough stereotypes...luckily the "We Californians..." sentences began to thin out as the book went on because they were about to ruin the book for me. Really. As a native Californian who has felt only 2 real earthquakes and rarely eats outside, I could rant about this for pages. It's a big, diverse state, making generalities a little silly.
- "We were Californians and thus accustomed to the motions of the earth. [...] But we Californians were no more prepared for this particular calamity than those who had built their homes on more stable ground."
- "This was California--almost everyone had migrated here from someplace else."
- "This was California--we ate outside in every season."
- People's motivations seemed non-existent or unimportant. Julia didn't seem all too upset when upsetting things happened, and why the "clock-time" people despised the "real-time" people was never really shown. So, not only did people react differently than I would have thought, but there wasn't any real explanation showing why this might be.
- Way too many blatant foreshadowing sentences for such a mellow ending. Tons of "I would learn later" and "We didn't know then" or "It was the last time" sorts of comments that ended up not really pointing to anything in particular.
Despite all those complaints, I really did enjoy reading the book. I liked that it didn't have a super tidy ending. I can't help thinking that the hype is do more to the politically-correct timing of the global disaster theme than anything else, but the ease of reading and the interesting story were enough to overshadow the lack of character development and other minor irritations for me. And besides, it's a treat to look at. That's got to count for something, right?