Book reviews / Fantasy / Science Fiction

Book review: A Canticle for Leibowitz

This was a relatively short book (only 338 pages) but because of the way it was structured, it just took me awhile to finish it.

It’s split into 3 parts, taking place centuries apart – so basically every 100 pages you have to learn about new characters and what is happening a few centuries down the line. For comparison, it kind of felt like flipping from 800 AD to 1700 AD to roughly now. So after every 100 pages I wasn’t all ‘holy crap what is going to happen next to this character I like.’ It was more ‘Mannnnn they just killed the guy I liked.’ Therefore depriving me of any emotional investment in the story and any real inclination to continue reading.

Anyway, it all takes place all in one place, the abbey of the Albertian order of Saint Leibowitz. Nearest guess, somewhere in the western US or Canada. The cool bit is that the order is dedicated to preserve knowledge from before the Fallout (eg the results of a prior nuclear war). So there’s an undercurrent of future archeology of our current world.

So anyway, it’s…fine. It’s got some interesting ideas and is relatively consistent. I say relatively as there are 2 characters which just make me go oh come on! That may be a result of my own irreligion than a problem with the book though.

There’s lots of philosophy and religion and…latin.

It soooo doesn’t pass the test. There are barely any women even in the book. Most of the action takes place among an order of monks – so there wouldn’t be, would there? When a woman appears, she’s rarely there for more than a few pages (and rarer still to say anything more than a few words). The one woman that seems to be important is one of those aforementioned problematic characters that make me go oh come on! It’s basically because it seems incongruous with the rest of the story, or what I think the story is about.

I’m not inspired to read the second book. I give it a 3/5. Losing 1 star for having no women to speak about and another star for killing everyone off every 100 pages.

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