until this book, i’ve had a streak of bad book luck lately… but now the book universe is righted by this very good book.
but it’s also a very sad book, and not just because of the dystopian parts.
this book is made up of and iced and decorated like a 10-layer cake of grief. two of the main characters are gay men with AIDS; one is a gay man without AIDS, but is possibly a nutjob; and one is a young heterosexual man of deeply suppressed sexuality (and everything else).
their paths cross and intertwine in a world facing doom–atmospheric, plague-ridden, climatological. they’re not out trying to Save the World–the world is long beyond the efforts of any small group of humans–so we readers are spared the nausea-inducing Hollywood Hero Effect. these guys are just trying to get by, each in their own corners of New York.
the characterizations in this book are wonderful, passionate, deeply emotional. it’s really the best part of the book, getting to know these folks. Hand does a fabulous job of making real, three-dimensional people for us to care about. she takes us on a journey through each of their hearts, showing us the fine shadings of love, lust, longing, and heartrending grief. it’s an emotional tour de force.
but the unrelenting apocalypse unfolding upon the earth… the warped daffodils that bloom months early, the birds that drop out of the sky, even the ridiculousness of christmas trees… these are all too big. one is helpless before them. that makes this book a painful read.
quite worthwhile, in the end. but don’t approach it thinking that somebody’s going to pull a miracle out of their ass.
and i bet you’ll never look at stars the same again.