Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Book Review - The Word For World Is Forest

Book Review - The Word For World Is Forest
By Ursula K. Le Guin

'When the inhabitants of a peaceful world are conquered by the bloodthirsty yumens, they find themselves forced into servitude, at the mercy of their brutal masters. Eventually, desperation causes them to abandon their strictures against violence and rebel against their captors. But in doing so, they have endangered the very foundations of their society. For every blow against the invaders is a blow to the humanity of the Athsheans. And once the killing starts, there is no turning back.'

My mum lent me this book recently, telling me that it had been a compelling read and that it had reminded her a little of the film 'Avatar'. She was right, it certainly was a compelling read, and it did have certain similarities to the film, although in other ways it was entirely different. 
But most of all I think that this book is a very deep and fascinating portrayal of human nature, the rise of a chain reaction, and the theory of sustainable peace. 
Definitely a very interesting book well worth reading. 

The Writing - Ursula has a unique style of writing, and, having just come from reading a book by King, it took me a little while to get into it. However, once I'd got my head into it I found it to be concise and to the point, with not much room for fluff and descriptions that don't immediately add to the story. Her scenes are sharp and well defined, with enough to description to create a thorough image for the reader. The flow is both descriptive and fast, and once you get into it it'll keep you hooked. 
When writing dialogue I get the distinct feeling that Ursula becomes her characters, she has mastered each characters style of speaking and is both thorough and consistent in writing this. The one thing that I did find difficult about her writing was the lack of back story, this left you to figure out what things such as races, species or scenario's were, when they were mentioned as part of the story. In most cases this was fine, but in some I found myself frustrated that I did not have a clearer image or idea of the concept or character.

The Plot - The plot of this story is intriguing. Being a sci-fi novel the story is set in a future where humanity has grown, joined with other intergalactic races, and begun to colonise on other planets. The planet that the story is set on houses the Athsheans, nicknamed 'creechies', who are a native race of naturally peaceful humanoids that have been enslaved by the humans that arrive on their planet. This story is a fascinating portrayal of human nature and an exciting peak into a theoretical dark vs light scenario. Here in this book Ursula has posed huge questions, how much will it take to incite revolt in even the most peaceful of peoples, and following that, once an idea is both introduced and acted upon what lingering effect will it have on the population? 
This is a story about survival, it is a story about hope, it is a story that questions and a story that theorises. This book will make you think. 

The Characters - Ursula portrays her characters very well. They are full and rounded and contain all the good and bad bits found in real people. She has found a way to get inside her characters heads and reveal to her readers their inner thoughts, all the things that define their logic, reasoning and decisions, and most importantly, all the things that make them human. These characters are not good characters, and they are not bad characters, like the story itself the characters are a portrayal of human nature, a realistic imagining of a semi-predictable future based on what we know of human nature, and also on what we know of the conflicting ideas and actions of humans themselves. Ursula has captured the way that people in the real world think and act, and she has transferred that magnificently into her own characters, each one is utterly believable and plays a crucial part in the story. 

This is a great book, it's interesting, philosophic, and gripping, and it will leave your brain working over the questions is poses for weeks after you've finished reading it. 

I recommend it.

Rach x 

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