Tuesday, November 23, 2010
review : rosie black chronicles - genesis
Rosie Black Chronicles: Genesis, Lara Morgan (Walker)
Rosie Black is a gutsy young woman from Newperth. She forages for salvage from the past that she is able to swap for luxuries, such as vegetables. She comes across an interesting piece of salvage and, with her friend Juli, unwittingly sets off a serious chain of events that could lead to the deaths of many. Not only this, but Rosie soon finds herself pursued by a strange, yet enigmatic, Feral called Pip.
While what exactly has happened to the world we knew is not explained explicitly but the reader gleans enough to know that water levels have risen, causing lower lying parts of the city to become flooded—there are references to floating markets—and a particularly deadly strain of malaria has emerged (called MalX), magnified by the marshy, damp areas inhabited by the poorer members of society, such as the Bankers and Ferals. Those who can afford to live on higher ground (the Centrals) are more fortunate. The world created, and the novel’s premise, is great; the post-apocalyptic world, clear division of class systems, renewable energies, inter-planetary travel and the fear of deadly, engineered disease all make for an interesting story. The important plot points are very obvious though – the significance of the pendant, for example.
Less interesting things: how the baddy is the only Asian. Or in other words, how the only character with an obviously Asian name is the baddy. He’s also the only one whose appearance is described like this: ‘caramel brown skin, his natural colour though, not tanned.’ This was all I could think about as I read on and, to be honest, I was shocked. (I think Juli may also have been Asian, but let's not talk about what happens there).
The book is quite simple, the character development is pretty stunted and formulaic – the “romantic” stuff between Rosie and Pip is boring. Characters are often just mediums for an information dump. Rosie’s story would have been stronger if told from a first-person perspective. As it is, the reader is removed unnecessarily from any chance of emotional action.
Given the language and the plot I would usually recommend this sort of story to a 10 or 11 year old reader. But then there are torture scenes (ok sure, they don’t have anything on Patrick Ness but they are torture nonetheless) and at the end one of the characters gets shot point blank. So I would hesitate in recommending it to younger readers and I don't think Genesis is sophisticated enough for older readers, I don't think they will bother. Though reluctant older readers might - maybe - so maybe that is who it’s for.
Many people, including people I actually know, have really enjoyed this book so please, as usual, do not take my word as gospel or to deter you from reading it. Morgan’s prose is solid and the story moves at a good pace. For readers 12+ (but please note torture and potential racism)
I would like to open discussion on the interwebs about books, rather than just posting. If you have read Rosie Black please please let me know what you thought and why.
I received this book to review from Magpies magazine and my official review can be read in the current (November 2010) edition.