Monday, June 10, 2013
Speculative Fiction: Every Boy Should Have a Man by Preston L. Allen
Date: May 7, 2013
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.)
Reading time: one day
From the back of the book: In a post-human world, a boy oaf comes home from school and finds a female man wrapped up in red ribbon. A note around her neck reads: Every boy should have a man. You're a fine son. Love, Dad. Preston L. Allen takes us on a journey into uncharted territory. He traces the story of the boy and the "mans" he loves as pets: Brown Skin who is not his, the tragic Red Sleeves who has no voice, and her quick-witted daughter Red Locks whose fierceness leads her out of backbreaking drudgery in the mines into the perils of battlefield to the savagery of cannibalism.
My review: The writing style of Every Boy Should Have a Man is simple and understated, yet the book packs a huge punch. Most prevalent is the theme of environmentalism, but others, such as religion, rear their heads as well. A few parts of the novel are unexpectedly emotional and tough to read. The story's blend of influences and themes make the book as a whole fascinating and thought-provoking.
Sections of the novel in turn seemed to demonstrate influences from Gulliver's Travels, early science fiction/fantasy stories, the Bible, and folk tales. Most obvious, as anyone who reads this book will discover, is the homage to "Jack and the Beanstalk." The story becomes increasingly allegorical, which particularly appealed to me, a fan of satiric speculative fiction. Much of the novel was therefore reminiscent of 19th and early 20th century sci-fi, a trend which I would love to see continued in today's novels!
This was a quick and engrossing read. In retrospect, the short length gave rise to some issues, namely that the plot seemed increasingly truncated and schizophrenic in its themes and style. It's just one of those books that some people absolutely love because of the same factors that cause others to hate it. The style and themes highly appealed to me, and I'm now considering which of my acquaintances I should force this onto next.