Peter Reads – The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

January 20, 2016

Hey so, apparently the author is reading this post. Hi Scott! I’m pretty sure you don’t eat babies.

After a while of not reading things (Well..I read ‘Gone Girl’ but I didn’t do a review of it) – I stepped back into the foray of reading with this book, mainly because I’m in Reddit’s book club and this was their January book.

Initial thoughts: American Gods meets the writing style of Oryx and Crake.

The plot centres around a group of librarians, who, as you find out soon after the start, aren’t actual librarians, at least in the traditional sense of the word. They belong to a library run by someone named “Father” (Who isn’t their actual father) – Turns out Father’s really old. At least “60 000”, as a character points out.

So Father goes missing and the librarians are looking for him. I’m jumping around because I’m not going to spoil things for you.

Through going to find Father, we’re presented with themes of self-discovery, gratuitous (obviously sensational) violence and how to deal with the concept of creating and being a monster, themes of godliness and the hardships thereof, and an interesting (sub-theme?) of trying to make all of that make sense in a relationship the main character never really calls love.

I say violent because it really is – there’s many explained details that I think were hard to get through – as in – I didn’t want to continue. Remember the part in Oryx & Crake with Oryx and the sex trade? And you wanted to stop reading and burn that book? Similar here. I did yell at it a few times.

(Aside: When Brittni finished reading 1984, she threw the book across the room in disgust. It’s one of her favourites.)

I felt like this book’s strongest point was the ending. It was well thought out and NOT RUSHED AT ALL. there was still room for a drop-off cliffhanger thing at the end and it’s all able to be wrapped up at the end.

However, I think the beginning was slightly too fast. I had to go back to read parts about Michael, who is a very interesting character, but kind of gets lost in the shuffle of the busy beginning. Loved the opening scene though. I also like exposition, though. So maybe it’s just because I’ll sit through The Brothers K and not get bored. I digress.

I’m glad there was a point that shoved the reader into uncomfortable territory with the main character right away. There’s a line at the start that says “I remember America, I remember things like Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.” where you get the feeling that these people are farther away from normal than you think. (Wait till you get to the tootoo)

Without themes of disconnection from the culture we know, we aren’t able to think of these characters of “Librarian-gods” because we’re still assuming an identity of our culture on them.

Wrapping up, this book was something new and I enjoyed it. I’ll probably re-read this again and I’ll keep my eyes out for a nice hardcover copy to go in my Sci-Fi section.

PS – not sure if Atwood was an influence here, but that’s something we’re not going to get from the text. Perhaps Scott will enlighten us sometime! He has an AMA coming up on Reddit on January 29th!

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