Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Pesthouse by Jim Crace
Title: The Pesthouse
Author: Jim Crace
ISBN: 9780385520751, Doubleday, 2007
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Source: Paperback Swap
First Line: Everybody died at night.
In the fishing village along the riverbank-- a place called Ferrytown that likes to charge exorbitant fees to any stranger traveling through-- Margaret is showing definite signs of sickness. Her head is shaved, and she is taken to a small stone cottage where she is left to recover... or to die. She is found by a young man named Franklin, and together they begin a long journey through an America laid waste by this disease they call the flux. Margaret and Franklin will be traveling through an America reduced to medieval methods of living where everyone hopes to make it to the East Coast to pay for passage on a ship bound for Europe-- the Promised Land. The couple will have many adventures along the way.
Crace swiftly sets the tone of his book and makes his readers uneasy in the prologue: "This used to be America, this river crossing in the ten-month stretch of land, this sea-to-sea. It used to be the safest place on earth." Franklin is young and impulsive, which soon leads to trouble. Margaret is older and used to staying beneath the radar. She is the more observant and adaptable one. As they pass the rusted-out hulks of factories and the weed-choked arteries of disused highways, Crace leads us further and further away from our traditional American values of progress, technology and industriousness.
It is an engrossing journey, but one that I never completely believed. Although I liked the characters of Margaret and Franklin, and I found Crace's view of an America forgotten by history to be quite interesting, I felt as though I were being held at a distance... as though I had the flux. If not for that No Man's Land between the characters and me, I would rate this book even higher. Unfortunately, this lover of dystopian fiction felt a bit quarantined.
My Book Rating Scale:
A+...Don't delay, get your hands on a copy of this book!
A...I loved it!
B...I really liked it.
C...I liked it, with a few reservations.
D...I finished it, but it's not my cup of tea.
- Phoenix, Arizona, United States
- Hi! I'm addicted to books (especially crime fiction), laughter and traveling off the beaten path. In my free time, when my eyes aren't glued to the printed page, one of them is usually pressed against the viewfinder of my camera. Let's see... books, laughter, travel, photography. Anything else? Oh yeah-- my dream house wouldn't have a kitchen!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.