Saturday, September 21, 2013

Book Review: Aftershocks

There was no extra-special reason why I grabbed this book to read, just a few little ones. I had seen it for years sitting on the library's shelves and thought it might be interesting because it was historical fiction but something about how the summary was written just sounded so dull that I had no interest in it. But after reading Fire Horse Girl (which is set a few decades later) I came back to it, interested because of the fact that it had Chinese characters from San Francisco's Chinatown in it and it sounded as if there was an multi-racial relationship in there which is unusual even today in fiction (I think, if I'm wrong please correct me, I don't see it that often). Although, I already mentioned that the summary was misleading by making the story sound boring and that wasn't the only way it was misleading....

Aftershocks by William Lavender

Summary: While Jessie might want to be a doctor her parents are trying to raise her as a proper young lady, after all it's the Edwardian era and women of the upper class simply do not work outside the house. She persists in studying books smuggled out of her father's library and defies the family in other ways she she sneaks out to try and find their dismissed maid in San Francisco's Chinatown where she discovers that she has an even more important reason to care about what happens to it's inhabitants during the 1904 earthquake.

The Good: This book was distinctly different from what the summary led me to believe and most of the time I liked that. It had a lot of different subplots which gave it some added realism and while I constantly waffle on my feelings of progressive characters in historical fiction (on the one hand, it's hard to write a believable character in a historical setting who is more progressive than they should be because of their setting, on the other hand these people did exist so why can't the main character be one of them) in the end I did like Jessi and thought it was appropriate here.

The Bad: As alluded to earlier, the multi-racial romance I was hoping to find did not actually occur in the book and that made me sad, sad that it wasn't here and sad that it doesn't happen much at all in young adult even though we live in such a diverse world. As for the actual book, it's a book that's rather hard to describe since while the main even is certainly the earthquake it's not actually the trigger for a lot of the events in the book and only happens about halfway through and I'm afraid my summary doesn't do the book justice either. Also, despite everything she does Jessie still came off as a bit too flat for me (while she does disobey her parents he doesn't have any major failings, perhaps that's why, after all fiction dictates that if someone doesn't have major failings that they can't be a "real" character, even if you meet people who appear to be just that in real life all the time), the other characters did too but they weren't the main character so that was less important. 

Overall I'm going to give the book a three out of five for being interesting while I was reading it but not something I'll remember for very long, given how much trouble I had finding the cover image for it I suspect I'm not the only one with that feeling.

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