Sunday, October 7, 2012

Two Debuts

The possibility of discovering a fresh voice in fiction is why it is exciting for me to read debut novels.  For example, I instantly became a fan of Amy Greene after reading her first novel Bloodroot.  Now, I can't wait for her next book.  I recently took on two other debut novels penned by women.  

The Age of Miracles, written by Karen Thompson Walker, tells the story of a young female protagonist, set against a backdrop of a world being slowly but forever altered.  Set on the California coast, the story explores an interesting concept the author calls "the slowing" wherein the days grow longer and longer, throwing off the number of daylight and evening hours contained in each day.  This affects crops, animals, tides, and of course, humans.  The humans are affected both physically as well as in their relationships with others.  While this was a smartly written, easy to read novel, it missed the mark for me.  I think the novel tried to do too many things - part coming of age tale, part sci-fi apocalypse tale, and part straightforward novel, by trying to do so many things I think this diluted the story overall.

Shelter, by Frances Greenslade, was a really wonderful book.  Set in rural British Columbia, Greenslade tells the story of two sisters raised off the grid by a loving mother and father.  After their father is killed in a logging accident, the girls are then abandoned by their mother.  Left to fend for themselves, the girls forge different paths and discover the strength to navigate a different world than the one in which they were raised.  I found the story to be very believable.  Very well written and an easy read!

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