Welcome to Reader vs. Reader (anyone have any wicked name suggestions???). Two librarians who have read the same book will discuss it critically. They may agree, agree on certain points, or completely disagree. RvR will challenge your reading comfort zone and dig deeply into the text to find potential problems or subtle brilliance. And maybe both.
In July, Andrea and Pam both read On the Edge of Gone On the Edge of Gone
January 29, 2035.
That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.
Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?
When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?
The Quick Reactions:
Pam: I loved the idea of this, and the character of Denise is finely drawn, but I can’t recall a time when I had so much difficulty getting done with a page.
Andrea: This one has so much potential, but fell short for me. It was 450 pages of little to nothing happening. I would have preferred more action or a shorter book.
Snippet of our conversation (Warning: spoilers everywhere!):
Pam: I really liked Denise and Duyvis did such a great job portraying her autism in a really realistic way.
Andrea: Yes, I do like the human aspect of it. The who do you leave behind or what do you do to survive
Pam: However, I have never read anything so tedious. Nothing happens! They literally never leave! It’s on the ship off the ship on the ship off the ship
Andrea: Agree, like if this book had been half it’s size I would have liked it better, but 450 pages of nothing is really hard. ALSO, I have a hard time saying it’s sci-fi.
Pam: AGREE. It’s more … survival? But really slowwwww survival.
Andrea:I thought maybe dystopian?. The elements of sci-fi are there, but I mean—we don’t touch on them at all.
Pam: Mmm, yep. There wasn’t enough detail in the sci-fi elements for me to say this is truly sci-fi, though. How are these people going to survive on “generation ships”? I just keep circling back to the lack of … EVERYTHING though. I can’t get over it. How do you have 500 pages of nothing? I don’t know what it was about the prose that made me struggle so much …
Andrea: I HAVE NO IDEA IF THEY’LL SURVIVE. They were seriously barely surviving as it was.
Pam: Agreed! Like .. how will they make things? Generally on colony ships in sci-fi there’s some sort of fabricator to make things. What about doctors and inoculations and babies and all that jazz? They are all going to die. If I were Denise I would have run away from that ship as fast as I could.
Andrea: Well, I mean, the 3-d printer did print a raft? And I think they have more than one doctor
Pam: But I mean where will they get the raw materials for that after some time? Like filament or whatever?
Andrea: That’s why the sci-fi aspect fails. We have no idea who these 3-D printers work. It’s 19 years in the future, but we really don’t get how technology has advanced? It obviously has, but I’m not sure how much.
Pam: Did you also have problems distinguishing between the secondary characters?
Andrea: YES! The 2nd characters felt so…flat. Let’s be honest everyone but Denise felt flat
Pam: And I don’t think it was an issue with names or anything–we somehow didn’t have enough time with each character to give them some sort of identifying characteristic. Which is pretty wild considering the length of the book.
Andrea: Agree. I really had a problem with some of them as well. For example, Iris, I loved that she was trans, but I never trusted her and didn’t feel like she was all that charming. She just felt…fake?
Pam: Yeah … most of the story felt fake. Denise was the only person who felt real to me.
Andrea: I feel like I have so little to say right now other than it was slow and nothing really happens. I did wish for so much more.
Pam: Ditto. I can’t think of anything else to say.
Stay tuned next month when we’ll duke it out over Drag Teen by Jeffery Self. If you have a suggestion for what a future read, please let us know!