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Brown Girl in the Ring Library Binding – 1 Oct 1999

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  • Library Binding
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0613171217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0613171212
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fuficius Fango on 11 Oct 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hopkinson grew up partly in Jamaica and partly in Toronto. This is her debut novel. It's a combination of sci-fi and voodoo written to a large extent in patois. It's a "post-apocalyptic" tale of little people (and women and children) vs corrupt politicians (and men, although one politician happens to be a woman) in post-economic-meltdown Toronto. It's a very good debut, better than OK, but I read it after her follow-up novel, Midnight Robber, which is better, I think, although I wouldn't give it 5 stars. The negative side of Brown Girl for me is that it's just a power-wish-fulfillment story.

Re-reading this, I wonder if I was in a bad mood when I wrote it, as I could easily imagine myself giving Brown Girl 4 stars and Midnight Robber 5. (Midnight Robber is impossible to describe, so don't expect me to review it!)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 35 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Octavia Butler's True Literary Offspring 9 Mar 2003
By Nichole Long - Published on
Format: Paperback
In Charles Saunders' essay titled "Why Blacks Should Read (And Write) Science Fiction," Nalo Hopkinson was pointed out by Saunders as being "Octavia Butler's true literary child." While Hopkinson "doesn't imitate Butler," he reminded us, she did "imitate the older writer's strenghts in plotting and characterization (Dark Matter, ed. by Sheree R. Thomas, 2000)." Saunders was right. What a debut. This first novel was enthralling. It was so good that up-and-coming fantasy novelist Nalo Hopkinson had managed to win both heady praise from Butler herself and a Warner Aspect First Novel Award.
Brown Girl in the Ring had everything. Smooth, yet urgent prose. Heart-stopping action. A thriving Caribbean-Vodoun culture in Canada. Soul-deadening urban decay. Vibrant Caribbean speech. Evil that makes your skin crawl. Using the power of the old ways of her ancestors, hero Ti-Jeanne must come of age in near-future Toronto by confronting the forces that threaten to overcome her neighborhood, her family, and her life. Even though I had read this book nearly 4 years ago, it is still in my head. It was and still is that good.
More that 3 decades ago, Octavia E. Butler revolutionized the heart of science-fantasy writing, setting tough new standards of excellence. With Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson has met that challenge admirably. I know Butler must be proud.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
What's a girl to do? Use magic, of course. 19 Feb 2002
By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have no idea why the publishers are calling this science fiction. It's really more of a horror/fantasy blend; the only sci-fi element I can think of is the near-future setting. Which suits me just fine. ;)
The world of _Brown Girl_ is frighteningly plausible--it is the logical conclusion of our current suburban sprawl and consequent urban decay. Here, even the city government has fled to the suburbs, and no one is left in the inner city but the poor. There is no electricity, no sewer system. You can't get into the hospital unless you are wealthy. And Rudy, the diabolical crime boss of Toronto, is selling organs to these hospitals--and let's just say the donors are less than willing.
And in this city lives Ti-Jeanne (Little Jeanne), a new mother, staying with her wise grandmother, Gros-Jeanne (Big Jeanne). Gros-Jeanne wants to pass on her knowledge to Ti-Jeanne, but Ti-Jeanne only grudgingly learns herbal skills, and wants nothing to do with Gros-Jeanne's other talent--the practice of Afro-Caribbean magic. Then one night they hold a ritual to help Ti-Jeanne's deadbeat ex-boyfriend, and the spirits tell Ti-Jeanne that it is her destiny to stop Rudy's evil.
We are sucked in, as Ti-Jeanne's course becomes more irrevocable, as she comes to accept the orishas, and as her ex-boyfriend's fear and drug addiction drive him into worse and worse trouble. Ti-Jeanne's only hope lies in her wits and in half-remembered bits of magical lore. An engrossing read; however, don't buy this if you object to violence. There is a good bit of that.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Hopkinson avoids gimicks 24 Aug 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the best aspect of this book, for me at least, was that Hopkinson integrates the loa into her book without making them seem hokey. In other urban fantasy books I have read, it sometimes seems as if the author almost puts the notice "OK, I'm putting in the magic now." before any supernatural elements enter. Hopkinson, on the other hand, describes the supernatural, the spirits that Ti-Jeanne sees and interacts with, as an insider, as if they were as accepted a fact to the readers as microwave ovens or computers. It was very refreshing to see voudoun presented in this light. I'd highly recommend this book to any who are interested in Afro-Carribean culture and mythology. Even if you're not, I'd try to persuade you to read it, it's a bit rough at times, but overall excellent for a first novel.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
It good fi true! 15 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This novel was truly refreshing. It is not everyday that you get to read a Sci-Fi book with a Caribbean flair. I loved it! The story line was no where near predictable or boring. I found myself unable to put the book down. You did a nice job Ms. Hopkinson, it good fi true!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Different voices and a powerful story 25 Aug 1998
By "ragabash" - Published on
Format: Paperback
A thoroughly enjoyable tale, Nalo Hopkinson has crafted this novel with care and not a little spirituality. Although it might be easy to simply write this story off as "just another urban fantasy", you must differientiate it for several reasons: 1.) The boring post-apocalyptic movie set in many science fiction stories has been more reasonably (and realistically) transformed to an inner-city urban collapse, with believable sociological ramifications and a believable timeline. 2.) All of the characters (even the antagonist) are interesting, understandable and believable. 3.) The subject matter handles an afro-diasporic magical tradition with respect, care, and authenticity rather than some cobbled-together melange of myth and pop culture. Ms. Hopkinson surprises and delights in this tale of generations, of debts owed and paid, and of redemption. I anxiously await her subsequent publications.
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