Thursday, April 16, 2015

REVIEW: Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

Amanda's Adventures in Sci-Fi Continue.
Her mission: to boldly read what she's never read before, to seek out new characters and new civilizations, and to find science fiction that she can wholeheartedly enjoy.

Fuzzy Nation
by John Scalzi
4/5 stars

I picked up this book because I'm still trying to read new things. Sci-fi is a genre that I've always had trouble with, but this title caught my eye. Plus, it's narrated by Wil Wheaton. I still have this irrational idea that sci-fi is boring and goes over my head, and I'm still trying to convince myself that it's not true.  This was probably the perfect book to do that.
I have a hard time grasping this fear of sci-fi. When I tried to read sci-fi when I was younger, it always felt cold and distant and, well, alien. Fuzzy Nation, by comparison, is colorful, vibrant with life, and above all utterly human. The story is about a major corporation mining the minerals from an uninhabited planet and what happens when someone discovers their might be a sentient life form on the planet after all. It's almost like Scalzi took some traditional sci-fi and infused it with a dose of stark reality, including greed, lawyers, ethics, and environmentalists.

My favorite part of this story was Jack Holloway, the main character. I am all about interesting and imperfect characters, and this guy was the cream of the crop. He's kind of a jerkwad, but an amusing kind of jerkwad. He was incredibly compelling, because I had a hard time figuring him out. The more I learned about him, the more I doubted whether he was going to be a hero in the story. The whole time I was wondering what he was up to, and whether or not he would be only looking out for himself in the end, because you come to realize that he really isn't a 'good' guy, but you wonder whether he can become one. It kept me guessing. Is he an inherently good guy? Is he inherently self-interested? Also, he was hilarious and sarcastic and cheeky. 

I liked that, though it was a sci-fi novel, it didn't really feel like a sci-fi novel. The story and the situation were written with such ease that it felt so natural and realistic. It's odd, but I love how much this sci-fi turned into a courtroom drama. I wasn't expecting that, and I have a feeling it's what added to the realistic feel of the story. We have lawyers and intense legality issues today, so we'll obviously have them in the future over futuristic things. 

As a caution, there was quite a bit of swearing in this story. I'm surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did, and I've been trying to figure out why that is. I think the biggest reason is that the swearing was not there for the sake of swearing, but played into the characters and situations presented. Also the 'f' word was not used once. While there was a lot of swearing, I didn't feel that it was used explicitly. 

Overall, the story was excellent. It was interesting and thought-provoking. 

Masterful performance by Wil Wheaton. I actually forgot halfway through who was narrating it because his performance essentially became the story for me. He wasn't Wil Wheaton; he was Jack Holloway and Wheaton Aubrey and all the other characters, and that's what makes a great narration.

Check out my other adventures in sci-fi!

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