February 25th, 2009

reading

Enclave by Kit Reed

Review copy sent to me by Tor.

This is a one of these. If you like these, you will probably like this one, but if you don't like these, this one will probably not convert you.

I was hoping it would convert me.

Non-spoilery plot summary: world is going to hell in a handbasket. The ultra-rich give their children over to a brand-new boarding school that promises to isolate them completely from the rest of the world, particularly the media. The ultra-rich, including some self-made folks who Really Ought To Know Better, do not bother to look into the staff of this boarding school to find out whether they are the sort of people who ought to be given the care of children. Or hamsters. Or small, sturdy houseplants. The isolated boarding school turns out not to protect the children from all harm. Chaos ensues.

You were really surprised about the chaos ensuing, right? And about the bit where the children were not protected from all harm?

Seriously, this is well-written on the sentence level. It was not a bad book; it was not the kind of book you would read out to your friends to have a good laugh. But I felt that Reed relied very heavily on brand-names for the near-contemporary feel. In some ways this is good--better to just have her write "World of Warcraft" when that's clearly what she meant, than to have her come up with some coy "Universe of the Art of War" MMORPG. If she's not going to change iPods, better to have them be iPods than xMuzik. On the other hand, it felt to me like it was dated before it hit the shelf. It felt like the brand-names were standing in for actual social analysis/speculation. That's not a good thing. It was extremely repetitive, because with multiple POV switches we often got the same event over and over from different perspectives, while other aspects were very underdeveloped or were not handled at all consistently.

Also, the very ending felt tacked-on and weird to me. Particularly the characters who turned out to get married when they were grown up: seriously, was this written by a group of 12-year-old girls? And the people who started out seeming somewhat redeemable still seemed somewhat redeemable at the end, and the people who didn't...didn't.

If you are a fan of books at boarding schools, or of near-futures-gone-mad, this is probably going to do pretty well for you. I kept wanting to like it more. I just...didn't.