Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: The Intuitionist

Well, I don’t know really how to describe this book, but it was very interesting. It feels like part speculative fiction, part detective story, party social commentary.

The story centres on Lila Mae Watson, the first black, female elevator inspector in ‘the city’. She’s also an Intuitionist inspector, someone who intuits whether an elevators is working. But the last elevators she inspects suddenly has a catastrophic incident and she’s cut up in more than one intrigue.

What I enjoyed about the novel was the layering. Just when you follow Lila Mae down one path, where she’s righteously sure that she knows who is at the bottom of the mystery, it suddenly blooms into a wider mystery. I also just liked the oddness of having elevator inspections and theory being a big deal, of all the things to wrap a story around. It’s just very amusing, but the world is built with extreme care and detail, that you just…go with it.

I think what I actually liked best about it was Lila Mae Watson herself. She’s so…meticulous and self assured. She’s precise and driven and just interesting. So even when the story meanders into just…words…I give it a break because it eventually meanders back to Lila Mae doing something again.

What I didn’t like so much was that there was just so much description. Which I guess built the universe, but at times I just wanted to the story to just get on with it. Which it does, unfurling at its own pace. It was definitely not as fast paced as my preferred reading fare, but still enjoyable.

I think I understood the ending, but maybe I didn’t. I liked the idea of something that you start as a joke takes on its own life. Also that random jottings that are essentially meaningless direct someone with new vigour in an almost failed faith. It is very amusing as an atheist anyway.

So, it’s an interesting book, one I’m sure you need to be in the mood for, otherwise you’d probably hate it. So I’m glad I was in the mood, as it has made me think in new and interesting ways (I’m currently doing a short story course, and it’s veery useful fodder for the imagination).

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