Monday, August 19, 2013

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block Review

Love in the Time of the Global Warming
by Francesca Lia Block
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Publish Date: August 27, 2013
240 Pages
Source: Publisher for Review
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated. 



Love in the Time of Global Warming
by Francesca Lia Block

My Thoughts:  This is the first time I've ever read anything by Francesca Lia Block. I've been told that this book is very much her style, so there's that. And you know, I liked it. But it was purposefully slow reading for me because I wanted to gather it all up and soak it all in, if you will. There are no missed words or phrases in this short book - everything is deliberately placed, so I felt like I needed to read this one with care. Where I normally would have blown through a book of this size, I took just over one week to finish this one.


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Penelope Overland and her family live in Los Angeles and unfortunately for them all, as the book opens, an event that comes to be known as The Earth Shaker is occurring: the house begins to shake, the family runs outside to escape the shaking, beloved dog Argos runs back into the home. Fearful for the dog, Penelope (Pen) runs back into the house to rescue him just as a wall of water comes and swallows everything up - this is the last thing she remembers. Fast forward to several days later - Pen now lives alone in the house and is surviving on food and water rations that her father had prepared for such a time as this - she is using tiny amounts for bathing and eating because she doesn't know when someone will come to rescue her or even if there is anyone else left out there, outside of her house. 

Outside of the house, there is nothing but darkness - dark water, dark skies filled with ash, debris covering the ground and the water. Nothing grows. The ground is barren. 

After a few days, Pen hears voices outside and some men enter her home - she hears them mention her father by name so she realizes that they know her family. One of these men finds her in her hiding place and shows her mercy by giving her the key to their van - he tells her that she should leave and find her family and that that there is a map inside the van. Pen has no idea who that man is and whether or not she should trust him but she knows that staying where she is, in her home, will bring nothing good as the men are surely out to harm her. So she rushes out, running as fast as she can, takes the van, and drives. She stops and few places and picks up a few people here and there - they have many crazy adventures - but Pen's ultimate goal is to find her family as the man suggested. Along the way she learns a thing or two about herself in some unexpected places. She realizes that she is quite special and she even has power hidden within her. 

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Love In The Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block is like a long, strange trip and I mean that in the best of ways. It is literally a series of adventures that Pen and her band of misfit friends go on while looking for Pen's family. It's a bit of a quest, you could say. The thing that makes it so unique and special - well...there are several, actually. First is the language and the unique way that Block writes. It is so very odd (in a good way) but also very flowy and lovely and unique and I just kind of loved it. That being said, it wasn't unusual for me to re-read passages more than once not just to visualize the images Block tried to create, but to visualize every single thing, even down to the fine detailing. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that for me, I was not content with just glossing over this book at all - I really wanted to digest every word to create perfect visual images of every scene in my head. It had to be that way; anything less wouldn't work for me. That brings me to another reason why this book is so special...

Love In The Time of Global Warming is like this wonderful re-telling of Homer's The Odyssey. It is imaginative enough to stand on its own, but there is so much of The Odyssey's influence in this small book, down to parts that I had practically forgotten about myself. A lover of Greek mythology and the classical story of Odysseus, I was almost squeally with how inclusive and generous Block was with this re-telling, all while keeping it her own story. From the main character being named Penelope to the inclusion of the Cyclops, Circe, the Sirens, the Laestrygonian cannibals, and the Lotus-Eaters, I loved it. It is also interesting and fun how Pen and her friends are fully aware that their own adventures have many parallels to The Odyssey as they carry a copy of the story around with them, reading passages to one another at different times throughout the book. Pen even thinks about these parallels to herself on more than on occasion. 

For those that are not as "into" mythology as I am (I'm very nerdy about it.), Love In The Time of Global Warming should not present a problem in terms of being understood - the characters point out many of the parallels to the ancient story, or at least the ancient parts that are pertinent. Pen and her friends - Hex, Ez, and Ash - are struggling just to survive in the aftermath of The Earth Shaker - an earthquake and the resulting giant wall of water that wiped out the west coast. They found the map I mentioned earlier in the van and it points directly to Las Vegas - Pen believes that she can find her family there, so that is where they travel. Interestingly, Las Vegas has been renamed the Afterworld, and most of the adventures/trials they face on the way are filled with seemingly-magical and interesting creatures. As they travel and fight the beasts and survive the landscape, they ultimately learn who they are and become comfortable with themselves. 

So what we have here, in addition to a pretty awesome re-imagining of The Odyssey, is a journey of self-discovery and friendship. Pen and each of her three pals have to wrestle with their own issues and inner thoughts and come out on the other side okay, and the wonderful thing is that reading this book is like a study in watching them do just that. As for the quest itself? Finding Pen's family? Well, there are no spoilers here, but I have to admit that I was both a little bit surprised by the ending and also not surprised. It ended quite perfectly, I think. I cannot imagine a better and more hopeful way for it to end. 

I would recommend Love In The Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block to fans of YA Apocalyptic stories with elements of Magical Realism. I would also recommend it to fans of classical Greek mythology as there is a ton of Homer's The Odyssey to be found in this story - it is like a mythology fan's paradise if you love that sort of thing. 


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**If you're still on the fence about this one for whatever reason,
you can download Chapters 1-5 for FREE by using the following links: 


Kindle HERE
Nook HERE

*I am not affiliated with Amazon nor B&N. 
These links do not support me nor do they support my blog in any way. 


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Love in the Time of Global Warming will appeal to fans of:

YA Post-Apocalyptic with some Magical Realism 
Mythology (in particular, The Odyssey)
Romance: Light romance. No triangles.  
LGBT

Love in the Time of Global Warming 
by Francesca Lia Block
will be available for purchase on August 27, 2013.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts on this blog. I received no compensation and these thoughts are my own. Thank you Henry Holt and Co!

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Has anyone read anything by this author before? 

Do you have this book on your to-read list? 
OR did you download the Chapters 1-5 sample to check it out?

Have you read THE ODYSSEY?



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9 comments:

  1. I've read and loved the Odyssey and am downloaded the preview of this as I type. I'm a little worried the writing style in this won't suit me, so I figured I might as well check. I love that this has self-discovery, though. Those are always my favorite books, so I doubt this will be an exception. Yours is the first review I'm seeing for this one (I think!), so thanks for the helpful pointers, Asheley! I can't wait to try this out!(:

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    1. Keertana, the writing style is very individualized to this particular author, I've heard - but I liked it very much. I found that I read and re-read almost all of the paragraphs in the book, which is why it took me so many days to read this one. It was so vivid in my mind with the language being so precise and flowing and unique with a touch of magical realism here and there PLUS the nods to The Odyssey everywhere. I thought it was a very bright little book and a great introduction for me into the work of this author. Hopefully the sample chapters will help you decide if this book is one that you'll enjoy!

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  2. So glad you liked this one, Ash! I know that Block's writing style is give or take--but I have always enjoyed it. I love magical realism and she writes it very well:)

    So, I am a total mythology nerd too, as you KNOW, and I thought that this retelling/ retake of The Odyssey was about the most original I have seen since O Brother Where Art Thou. LOVE that the hero is not a male, but Penelope, who was of course, Odysseus' wife in the classic poem. Loved all the correlations to the original, the cyclops, the witch queen, the journey to the Underworld--all of it. And I LOVED the romance and the "spin" on the love story (you know what I mean.) It totally, totally worked for me.

    So now that you got your feet wet with Block you should check out her Weetzie Bat stories, which are what she's best known for. They are also strange and unusual with magic realism tossed in--and they are set in LA, which becomes this sort of Wonderland--I don't think I have ever read a more interesting take on that city--it's right up there with Bret Easton Ellis (Less Then Zero) if you've ever read his stuff:)

    Fantastic review, A!

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    1. For me, magical realism is something that has to work with the rest of the book for me to enjoy it - in this case it worked SO WELL with this book that how could I not enjoy it, particularly with the threads of The Odyssey running thru? I feel almost like I've read the book two or three times rather than once because I've re-read so many of the passages over and over.

      I LOVED the way this book looked in my head, like a wonderful, beautiful Tarsem Singh movie. I agree on all of your points on The Odyssey, I just loved it. Plus, what a beautiful package - the design team outdid themselves with the cover and the chapter headings and the title page. So lovely.

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  3. This book hasn't even been on my radar, because as much as I love Greek mythology and like the Odyssey that's not a retelling that I usually go for. BUT my favorite books are the types that do this: "There are no missed words or phrases in this short book - everything is deliberately placed," and that sentence of yours peaked my interest big time! Thanks for making me think about this book differently

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    1. It's such an interesting book, L. So short and yet so packed with *stuff* - all of these wonderful parts of The Odyssey are in there but in a magically real way (haha, the magical realism). I took so long with this book because I just read and read and read it. And it's so pretty. Like I was mentioning to Heather, I loved the cover and the title page and the chapter headers - the design team did a wonderful job. I think it will be a book that some will love and others maybe not so much, but the ones that love it will love it HARD.

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  4. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

    I LOVE Greek mythology and the re-telling sounds AMAZING! SQUEE! I need this. Really bad. I'm going to get it.

    Great, great review. I really want to be your neighbor so that we can share libraries....

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  5. I wasn't too terribly interested in this one until I read your review, which I loved! THIS SOUNDS AMAZING. I am wondering though why her family left her since she was trapped in the house? Did they have to because of the whole disaster or something? But all the people she meets and gangs up with sounds amazing as well as the mythology retelling and just everything!

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  6. Thanks for the links to check out the first few chapters as I'm just not quite sold on this book yet. I love that other people are loving it but the concept is not calling to me and the descriptions I've read of the writing aren't leaving me very enthusiastic either.

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