Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

It is quite hard to fit this into any specific category, genre or sub-genre, which I think is exactly what the author wanted. It doesn't fit in any box.

Sometimes literary fiction can suffer from trying to outsmart the reader by trying to be too intellectual, which is often to the detriment of the book.

I feel as if this story comes quite close to that particular quirk. A shame really, because it has some really interesting ideas in it, and I think Byrne has the potential to create something really memorable.

Byrne's ideas about the energy resources and the Trail are really very good. In fact they are the only thing that keeps the often confusing plot afloat.

The Trail is a fascinating idea, perhaps a premise worth returning to in another book. I found the chapters about the alternative energies, the building and use of the Trail, very creative. I was riveted by the actual idea, the practice room and the thought of the Trail being on and in the ocean. Kudos to Byrne for this particular idea.

Switching voices or narrators is quite common and works if it is done well. In this case the voices switch in a way that makes it hard to keep track of which character you're actually listening to or rather reading about.

Then there is the slightly obsessive need to bring sexuality in to every scenario. It might have been some confused and misguided attempt to create the image that sexuality is a flowing natural element in this futuristic setting, but I didn't flow for me at all.

Instead of a world free of bi, trans, gay or hetero restrictions or labels and a 'love the one you're with mentality.' you get a main character with impulse control issues. Her inner dialogue about feeling empowered by the thought of wanting to take someone by force 'like a man would' says a lot about her but nothing about sexuality in her society. The fixation on sex overshadows the experiences on the Trail.

Overall it had a lot of potential and some great ideas, but it ended up being a quagmire of confusion.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

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