Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Green, by Jay Lake

Review copy provided by Tor.

So the good first: I did not want to read this book. I said to myself, "I don't have to finish it if I don't like it; I can quit whenever." And I did not quit. So that says some good things about the writing here. It also says that the thing that made me not want to read this book was not as much in evidence as I'd feared. Specifically, the marketing copy talks about the main character's courtesan skills/courtesan training, and I am really sick of the Magical Whore thing. It's an incredibly fine line to walk between treating sex workers as the magical Happy Hooker and treating them as volitionless victims, and hardly anybody manages it. Jay doesn't really either: at risk of being too spoilerific (that'll come in a minute), the main character's life path takes a fork, and it really isn't a book about a courtesan. It's a book about fragmented gods and their life and death among humans and how the humans handle it. This by me is much more interesting.

The down side: well, a lot of the book is fairly standard fantasy narrative about the main character's training. I have gotten more and more interested in books that take that sort of thing as given and move on, but the writing was smooth enough to pull me through despite it being a type of narrative I'm not usually as keen on and despite me having serious doubts that it would be my sort of thing despite the marketing copy. That part of the book is not what one might call stunningly original, but it gets the job done. I was more bothered by the dedication.

The dedication reads, "This book is dedicated to my daughter, whose story it is. Someday she may choose to reveal which parts are true and which parts were made up by her dad." Recently haddayr has described her reaction to several categories of situation that would otherwise leave her initially speechless to be looking people in the eye and saying, "That really made me uncomfortable." And I guess that's where I am with this particular dedication. it really made me uncomfortable. I know Jay from conventions and FB; while we are not close friends, I know him well enough to know that he's a loving and devoted father, and that he and his kid have a very good relationship. But for any parent to claim that a novel is their child's story...really makes me uncomfortable. There are lots of ways in which that relationship (particularly when the kid is still a minor) shapes how stories are told. I also ended up somewhat uncomfortable with some of the sexual content--which was otherwise quite well-handled, I felt: explicit where appropriate to the character and her story but in no way gratuitous--when seeing it in the light of a father claiming to be telling his daughter's story. If it had just been dedicated to his daughter, fine, no problem. And from the things Jay has said about his relationship with his daughter, I feel sure that she is aware that the book was dedicated in this fashion (I don't know whether she's read it at this age, but that's not, it turns out, actually my business), and is fine with it. I was just left feeling a bit uneasy about the specific shape of the dedication.
Tags: bookses precious
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