Monday, May 18, 2020

68. The Art of Saving the World

The Art of Saving the World. Corinne Duyvis. 2020. [September] 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The rift that opened on our farm the evening I was born was like a shard of glass: sharp and angled and not quite transparent, but tilt your head a little and it might as well be invisible. So no one could blame my parents for not noticing it that first week.

Premise/plot: Hazel, our heroine, finds out she is a CHOSEN ONE. She won't have to save the world alone, however, for others have been sent through the rift to help her as the POWERS THAT BE stand silently by watching and judging their progress. Those others include a DRAGON and four other Hazels. Yes, four other versions of herself from four different alternate realities have come through the rift and are there to help this Hazel, this CHOSEN ONE Hazel live up to her destiny.

But what evil(s) is she saving the world from? And what are the consequences of her success or her failure? Is this a game of Whose Line Is It Anyway where the points don't ultimately matter? Is the system rigged? Why is there a system to begin with?

My thoughts: The premise starts off strong. I will say that the prologue and first chapter or two show a lot of promise. Ultimately, however, I found this novel to be an almost complete mess. It depends on what you are personally looking for. If you are looking for an epic adventure-quest where an actual world needs actual saving from an actual threat and a hero/heroine goes through a journey--literal or not so much so--to reach the place where he/she can save the world and find that place to come into being their best self...then this one's not that. But was it ever meant to be that? Probably not ever.

If you are looking for a novel where you literally have conversations with yourself, then this is the book for you. It is mainly talkity-talk-talk. Hazel, this world, this Chosen One, Hazel, isn't really all that in tune with her inner self and inner desires and who she is and what she wants and how she wants her life to play out day to day. She's not solely to blame. Far from it. She literally has been kept within a two mile radius of her house since she was six days old. So if she's not quite your normal teen, well, there's probably a good reason for her to not quite be so self-aware. (That being said, being self-aware isn't always easy in the best of circumstances.)

Essentially, Hazel is an asexual lesbian with anxiety issues and a case of shyness. By seeing how other Hazels handle life, she begins to become more self-aware and motivated to be truer to herself.

So how does saving the world fit into this plot? Well, that's where it gets messy and complicated. The more inward and self-introspective the novel turns, the floppier and clumsier this whole "must save the world" nonsense becomes. By the end, it's just absolutely ridiculous.

But were readers ever supposed to be focused on that aspect of the novel? Was that ever truly the point? I'm not sure it was. I think the novel was always about Hazel's self-discovery and realizations by getting to know other versions of herself, by becoming friends with her other selves.

I liked the idea of alternate realities and seeing other versions of yourself, of exploring what ifs, etc. I just wish the whole saving the world aspect of it wasn't there as a distraction. 

© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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