Posted by Sari
I once took part in a marketing survey where they defined “an avid reader” as someone who buys 10 books a year. As we usually accumulate more than that in a month, the poor market researcher did not really have a category for me. However, even avid readers seem to be reading less and less – I know that I need to make a conscious choice to find time for reading. This is reason one I think Neglected Novel Reading Month (NeNoReMo) is a stellar idea.
The other reason why I love this idea is that I sometimes I feel that as people in general are reading less, more and more of avid readers are also writers, and though reader/writers of my acquaintance are clever people with interesting things to say, they tend to be more invested in writing than reading. And as I am a voracious reader who has never felt the slightest need to write fiction, I sometimes miss a peer group, and NeNoReMo has helped with that.
November is always busy month for me, and last year I did not manage to read my NeNoReMo novel, so I was a bit hesitant to commit this year. But letting Candy Crush Saga go unplayed in the evenings and settling down with my cheap supermarket reading glasses and my book instead lead to results!
So, my NeNoReMo book of 2016 was Robert Charles Wilson’s Darwinia from 1998. It is earlier than Spin and its follow-ups (which I haven’t read) and Julian Comstock (which I have). In 1912 Europe disappears one night and is replaced with a continent geographically roughly similar but with no human presence and alien flora and fauna. It begins as a sort of journey into the heart of darkness, and then changes quite abruptly into something more science fictional and Philip K Dick -like, with questions of sentience, identity, alternate realities and epic secret history battles.
As with Julian Comstock, I loved the idea, was quite taken with the language and description and thought the first third was outstanding. But the twist did not quite work for me: I had settled into reading one book, it changed into another, and my brain had difficulties with switching tracks. That said, I’d definitely recommend it. It is bold, it has scope, and the world that it creates is quite unique.