Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review: The Girl In The Road by Monica Byrne

Title: The Girl In The Road
Author: Monica Byrne
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: May 20th, 2014
Genre: Science Fiction, Adult
Rating: Three stars

Summary: Meena, a young woman living in a futuristic Mumbai, wakes up with five snake bites on her chest. She doesn't know how or why, but she must flee India and return to Ethiopia, the place of her birth. Having long heard about The Trail-an energy-harvesting bridge that spans the Arabian Sea-she embarks on foot on this forbidden bridge, with its own subculture and rules. What awaits her in Ethiopia is unclear; she's hoping the journey will illuminate it for her.

Mariama, a girl from a different time, is on a quest of her own. After witnessing her mother's rape, she joins up with a caravan of strangers heading across Saharan Africa. She meets Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. Yemaya tells Mariama of Ethiopia, where revolution is brewing and life will be better. Mariama hopes against hope that it offers much more than Yemaya ever promised.

As one heads east and the other west, Meena and Mariama's fates will entwine in ways that are profoundly moving and shocking to the core. 

Review: This book may be a struggle for some, it's very surrealistic and dark at times, and much of it is spent in the head of its two protagonists, leading us through a winding tale.

The writing is lush and very descriptive, set against a backdrop of India and Ethiopia, in a time where gender is fluid and people are much freer with their sexuality than they are now, the story contrasting technology with sex and struggle and life and death.

I had a hard time with this book in ways, I skimmed some of it. It winds together the stories of Meena, a girl who awakens with snakebites, and Mariama, a young girl in Africa. Of course the foregone conclusion is that their stories will intersect, but how that happens is the interesting part.

Along with the eerie, almost fairy-tale style of the book at times, the author also draws the reader in with the vivid depiction of the characters we meet. The smallest detail is seen to, and the characters come to life, myriad and fascinating.

This book is much darker than I had expected, more than I had really prepared myself for, and a bit of a mindtwist as you get to the end. I think I'll need to reread it to truly grasp everything that had gone on here, but I think that people who want an interesting, winding story that they can really sink their teeth into will enjoy this. There's a lot to be absorbed and considered, but I think Meena and Mariama's story is interesting enough to delve into.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review.  

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