Saturday, 30 January 2016

Review: Radiance

Radiance Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I would like to start with the disclaimer saying that the time that I took to read Radiance in no way reflects how much I enjoyed it - I seemed to take a long time to finish this one due to stress at work and being overly tired when I got home in the evening.

Now, that being said, I can't explain how much I LOVED Radiance! It was so refreshing and unique to read, the setting being an kind of alt-history hollywood heyday era where mankind has colonised the entire solar system. It isn't a continuous narrative; the story is told in a series of film scripts, newspaper articles, personal letters and recordings from a variety of characters which reminded me very much of the story telling in some video games, such as the Bioshock series, where the story unfolds by the player listening to a series of audio logs. Also numerous themes and storylines unfurl, the primary of which being the disappearance of film maker Severin Unck who was investigating a disaster that had taken place in a village on Venus.

In my mind Radiance is (amongst other things) a commentary on social media, living life in the public eye, and the glut of "reality" TV programmes that dominate our channels, where personal dramas are shot and reshot until that perfect moment is captured and shared with the world. Indeed, poor child-Severin is more at home with a camera as a companion rather than an actual mother.

It wasn't an easy book to read initially as it did take a little while (until around the 30% mark on my Kindle) to get to grips with the storytelling style and settings but I was certainly glad that I persevered with it.

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