14 February 2021

Native Tongue - Book Review


Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin
Publication date: 1984 (yeah, they didn't have months and dates then?)
Pages: 327 pages
Genre: Dystopian/speculative fiction, science fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Strengths: Unique and compelling story
Weaknesses: Dry writing

I read this with my book club. I really wanted to like it even more, but I suppose it's enough that I really want to read the next two books in the trilogy, eh? I LOVE the story and I need to know where it goes next.

The writing, while it also felt reflective of the culture represented in the book, was sort of dry to read. The characters didn't feel 'real' to me, I guess. It's hard to explain - I guess I felt engaged in the women's struggle, but since none of the characters were really allowed emotions, the book didn't really communiate much emotion either? The dry style is probably a strength when you consider the story, but it made it less easy to keep reading. I had to stop and keep thinking, but I always came back.

And this is easily turning into my most chaotic review. 

In a nutshell - the book is about women as only second-class citizens without any identity or property of their own. But they're also somehow in charge of communication with the rest of the universe (aliens included) on behalf of the men. Women are too smart for these shenanigans, so they're developing their own language - that also reflects emotion, unlike the men's languages - to use with each other, as their woman-only barren houses thrive as their own community. There are specific individual encounters and events that demonstrate more about the existing dystopian society, but none are very meaningful on their own. They just illustrate the way life is for the men and for the women.

Overall, I'd give this book a strong 4 out of 5 stars. While it's not even on a list of my favorites, I do want to read the rest of the trilogy.

1 comment:

Mom Among Chaos said...

That's a high rating for something you didn't love. It sounds interesting.