Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this book years ago (well over a decade) and approached a reread with trepidation: could it possibly live up to my rosy memories of it? (In fact, I even recommended it for a science fiction literature course that I took.) Long story short: it did. Oh, it very much did. I love this book: it's sensual, emotional, humorous and intimate.
Ofelia is a delightful character, an atypical heroine sketched warts and all. Even her initial attitude is surly and even "bratty," it's easy to see where she's coming from ... and the book keeps you interested in her throughout her evolution. She changes and grows throughout, but so much of the story depends on her being herself.
Others have mentioned the old, uneducated narrator. It's not just window-dressing: the plot hinges on her unique perspective, how that causes her to deal with the aliens, and ... well. This IS a spoiler-free review.
Some of the atmospheric descriptions, particularly in the early portions of the book, are fantastic. They're evocative, especially with the senses that other authors neglect. It really puts the reader right inside Ofelia's skin.
I also just adored Ofelia's pragmatism - once she gets over the initial fear of being killed (and even before that), her primary reaction to the aliens is a sense of maternal exasperation. Priceless.
If I have any complaint, it's that I find a few portions of the book move a bit too ponderously, particularly the earliest section when Ofelia is on her own. But rare is the book that can make me tear up in the end, rare is the book that blends character, plot and theme so perfectly ... highly recommended.
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