Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: LoveStar by Andri Snaer Magnason

I picked up LoveStar almost entirely because of its cover.

It's been a long time, I admit, since I've been in a bookstore. Amazon is easier, cheaper, and my wishlist is filled with recommendations of others. It's how I find new books now. But I used to go to bookstores, browse the shelves, pull whatever intrigued me, and this is the test: open to the center. Read a page or two. Is the urge to continue reading powerful? Yes? Get it!

Later, coming upon those two pages read in the bookstore, it's like meeting an old friend again. No. More like someone you shared a glance with, exchanged smiles, maybe you thought you had something in common. Perhaps it turned out to be true. Perhaps it was true love. Perhaps it was death.

LoveStar turned out to be shocking, puffin-sandwich true love. But now it's over, and in the cold light of day, I will tell you this:

You can only read this book for the first time once. Then you will be like me, reeling and wanting desperately to talk with someone about it, to ask them, If you were calculated, would you go to Iceland to meet them under the falling blaze of bodies-turned-comets? Would you sleep inside the wolf? What could make you howl, how much would it take?

LoveStar is traveling to his destination with a seed in his hand. Meanwhile, Indridi and Sigrid are cracking like the earth, their "love" only temporary and put to the test by the arrival of a letter. In a world where birdwaves have made us all cordless and yet more tethered than ever more, where butterflies and plague-flies monitor our every move, and every second of our lives is choreographed by moodmen, what is the meaning of freedom?

LoveStar presents a somewhat harrowing view of our future as it peels back layer after layer of the inevitable outcome of our insatiable curiosity and need to control everything. Moments of clarity chilled me to the bone, as ad campaigns reached sinister heights and the genetic manipulation of family pets became a money-making scheme, despite the savagery of the "pets." The reader undoubtedly will recognize major corporations and the seamless integration they've already achieved in our lives.

Morality tale? Cautionary tale? Bizarro fiction? LoveStar is specfic on speed, a philosopher's nightmare, and the most engaging thing I've read in a long time.

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