Friday, October 04, 2013

Mini-Review: The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

Check out the usual suspects (i.e. – blogs that run in the same circles I do) and look for any reference to ‘year’s best’ or similar, and you’ll probably come across a reference or 5 to The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon). Karen Lord is an author I’ve been looking out for since I heard a lot of good about her debut, Redemption in Indigo (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon), and after I overcame my initial reluctance to jump on the ‘Best of All Possible Bandwagons’, I final have gotten around to reading the book.
I’m glad I did – I enjoyed it a lot and can see why it’s frequently mentioned as a front runner for various awards.
The Best of All Possible Worlds does much of what science fiction is at its best – it’s a throwback to classical science fiction of the Star Trek variety, though it’s framed in much more of a progressive, humanistic light. It explores humanity through extreme ethnic evolution where humans of varying origin can still interbred, but have evolved a wide-range of telepathic, empathetic, and other abilities. Through this lens Lord explores such deeper ideas as emotionally damaged people, arrogance, humility, communication, dominance, slavery, and genocide. But all that is really a sideline.
The Best of All Possible Worlds is a romance and shame on you if your initial reaction considers this a negative description of the book. This book tells the story of how two individuals from very different upbringings, with large emotional scars, come to love each other. This is not a book about sexual seduction, but friendship building into a deep love and respect. And it’s subtle. So deliciously subtle.
When I call The Best of All Possible Worlds a romance, that shouldn’t mean that’s not science fiction. It is – the two are not mutually exclusive no matter how many times I’ve read a review that suggests it is so. Both exist in the same book. Both are well done. And the combination is what makes this such a great book. And if you’re inclination is to not read this book because I invoked the icky word ‘romance’, take that as one giant reason why you should read this book.
I typically don’t read other reviews of a book I plan to review. With so much attention already brought to The Best of All Possible Worlds, I made this one the exceptions. The result is that my review is somewhat in response to what I’ve seen in several other reviews. There is a lot more that can be said of this book – much of it positive, and some of it negative. But I’ll let you read about that elsewhere. In short, I very much enjoyed The Best of All Possible Worlds and I can see why it’s talked about as front-runner for awards.
Except for that whole business with the faerie world/elves analog. That part really didn’t work for me at all.


Anonymous said...

I found this book was okay, but it didn't really grip me. The episodic way it was told made for easy reading, and I usually love a good character-driven story, but it felt very much like little actually happened and that events should have been more interesting than they were. It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't give it the hype that it's been getting around various review blogs.

Tabitha (Pabkins) said...

Now I must read it *evil laughter*


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