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on Sep. 05, 2013 :
Did I enjoy this book: I’m not sure.
I was slightly nauseous the whole time I read. I’m still slightly nauseous. McPherson creates a seriously screwed up post-apocalyptic world in which people “farm” and eat babies, and I’ve been trying to channel my inner Jonathan Swift all week with little success. OM NOM NOM… babies?!
Readers know what’s going on right from the beginning of the book. We know that most food-grade babies get ground up & turned into other food by machines that kind of remind me of evil Star Trek replicators. We know that fresh babi (because it isn’t so bad if you spell it with an ‘i’) is a delicacy. We know that the residents of this post-apocalyptic nightmare are “milked” and “harvested” on a regular basis, and that they honestly have no idea where babies come from (or why they should be appalled about their diet).
Enter the plotline: a teacher who hints that babies may have, at one time, come from humans instead of farms. A not-quite-the-same-as-everyone-else adult and his girlfriend, who just happens to have an odd growth in her abdomen that no one can identify. An over-genetically engineered “life-babi” who can control minds. A dark conspiracy, and, of course, sex. Lots of it. In McPherson’s book, well, let’s just say the Babi Makers greet each other in a most solicitous manner. I’m almost brave enough to call it reverse sexism, but at the very least, one of the (many) evil bad guys appears to be evil because he believes men should only sleep with women. In McPherson’s world, relationship clusters contain as many members of each sex as the group is comfortable with, and monogamy is neigh unheard of.
It’s a strange book. The evil mind-controlling bad guy actually mind-controls two men to have a sexual encounter (all the while believing that coupling should only occur between a man and a woman). The community is apparently without violence, but people start killing each other the first chance they get. Ultimately I’m reminded of Newspeak – the people of Nove have lost not only the knowledge, but also the language they need to live any differently than the way they do. The Babi Makers is a true dystopian novel – it leaves readers feeling unsettled, horrified, and absolutely CERTAIN the same thing could never happen to them. Scary stuff.
Would I recommend it: Yes. Read it because it’s disturbing. Read it because it could happen to you.
Will I read it again: Nooooooo, but I may dig out A Modest Proposal for a second read.
As reviewed by Melissa at Every Free Chance Book Reviews.
(I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)
(reviewed long after purchase)
on July 29, 2013 :
The world of Nove may or may not be an imagined future earth, but some disaster has changed it from our present, and humanity lives in safely closed towns where well-ordered lives guarantee no crime and only the simplest of emotion. The writing’s odd lack of sentimentality befits the story perfectly, inviting the reader into lives so simple and calm that we just know, there must be something wrong.
In a world where plants and animals have died, foods are constructed from proto-proteins in factories, but offer all the flavors and textures long lost. Unless you happen to be ridiculously rich, in which case maybe more is on offer, and a beautiful opening scene regales the reader with gastronomic splendors and surprise.
The topmost surprise is the sort of sting that leaves you wondering, surely not, and reading on to find out how this could be. Well-timed backstory provides the impetus as a teacher lectures his students. A rich leader pays the exorbitant fee to allow the birth and adoption of a child. The ordinary worker wonders why his female friend has fallen ill. A healer dies. And slowly the disparate characters of the tale come together while the edifice of perfect lives tumbles into denial.
Nove is a world where sexual pleasure is neither more nor less than its words, a kind hand offered, a drink, a hug, a coupling unburdened of regulation or effect, and desire turned into the “do no harm” pursuit of happiness. But harm, perhaps, is being done behind the scenes of this world. And The Babi Makers is an oddly disturbing and intriguing exploration of logic’s illogical conclusions.
Not for the fainthearted, this is a novel that makes you think and leaves you thinking more. What would we sacrifice for love? And what for order, comfort, peace, and control?
Disclosure: The author gave me a free ecopy of this novel and asked for my honest review.
(reviewed long after purchase)