Monday, March 31, 2014

" I think what I found most fascinating was the detail and plausibility of Lee's future United States." ~Sonia
On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee takes place in the future, in a United States reshaped by environmental and social change. It tells the story of Fan, a girl born and raised in B-Mor (formerly known as Baltimore)—a labor settlement in which workers devote their lives to cultivating produce and seafood for wealthy citizens who live elsewhere, in Charter villages. Though at first a contented worker and gifted diver, when the man she loves disappears, Fan leaves the safety of B-Mor to find him, ending up first in the lawless and terrifying counties and then in one of the Charter villages. Simultaneously a novel about love, class and countless other things, On Such a Full Sea is an exceptional novel—beautiful, moving, dark and smart.

On Such a Full Sea is complex—it's hard to pick an aspect to highlight. I think what I found most fascinating was the detail and plausibility of Lee's future United States. In his re-imagined world, almost everything is different. Major facets of society have changed; there's a completely different social structure with its own social issues and culture. The amount of imagination and skill shown in the conception of a world this detailed is amazing but what'struly impressive is Lee's presentation. He's able to show complete societal overhaul in a way that makes it seem so possible it's almost inevitable.

Apart from being stylistically and technically impressive, On Such a Full Sea is also beautiful and full of wisdom. Most of the characters are slightly insane, which I liked, and the plot is fast-paced and sometimes violent, which I also liked. I wanted to slow down and enjoy it but instead I read it in three days because I couldn't stop. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes post-apocalyptic novels or novels that take place in a dystopian setting like Watchmen or 1984, or to anyone who's read The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin or any of Steven Millhauser's short stories.

~ Sonia

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