Thursday, March 19, 2020

Beneath The Rising by Premee Mohamed

After reading this book, I will definitely pick up the next book by Premee Mohamed.  This author has a great deal of potential and I look forward to seeing what else she writes.

I wanted to start out with that because I didn’t want anyone to think that I was being too negative about this novel, because there were a number of things I didn’t like.  To be honest, there were times when it felt like a slog and I was tempted to not finish it.  But one thing kept coming back - the raw truth of the central relationship.

 It I’m getting ahead of myself.  This book is in a genre that is not particularly my jam.  I don’t often go for Lovecraftian horrors.  I’m mostly a science fiction fan who also loves fantasy.  I wouldn’t have ever requested an eARC from Netgalley until I read about the book and author on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog’s My Favorite Bit feature.  Reading what the author wrote about herself and her book made me immediately request an eARC, so thanks to both Mary Robinette and Netgalley for getting me this book.

This novel is the author’s first traditionally published book, and it feels a lot like a first novel.  A lot of the descriptions are lyrical and poetic, which makes it very jarring when the book switches into vernacular.  Apparently, it WAS a first novel, one the author wrote in 2002, which might explain the choice of the alternate history setting where the September 11th attacks did not succeed.  I later read Ms. Mohamed’s Big Idea guest post on John Scaliz’s Whatever blog and I thought to myself, this person seems awesome.  She wrote this book originally when in school working on a genetics degree and it totally brought me back to my own Drosophila lab days.

A lot of the writing feels rough.  The Eldridge monsters start out scary,  but quickly begin to feel repetitive and boring.  The globetrotting quest feels as pro forma as a game of 80’s Carmen Sandiego.

So why do I think this is an author worth following? Simple.  She totally captured the feeling of being the needier person in an unbalanced friendship.  Have you ever had a friendship where you constantly thought to yourself “why is this person even friends with me?” Where your depth of feeling far outpaced the other person’s? Where you constantly felt that you weren’t pulling your weight and you kept waiting for the other person to drift away? This author totally captured all of those raw, visceral feelings and put them down on the page.  That’s why I’ll be watching it for what she does next.  

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