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The Girl in the Road [Kindle Edition]

Monica Byrne
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £12.99
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Product Description

Review

It's transfixing to watch Monica Byrne become a major player in science fiction with her debut novel . . . Beautifully drawn people in a future that feels so close you can touch it, blended with lush language and concerns of myth. It builds a bridge from past to future, from East to West. Glorious stuff (Neil Gaiman)

The Girl in the Road is a brilliant novel - vivid. sparky, fearless, intense with a kind of savage joy . . . utterly unforgettable (Kim Stanley Robinson)

Utterly captivating . . . an electrifying debut (Helen Wecker author of THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI)

The road trip novel you didn't know you were waiting for. A genuine and extraordinary journey. Take it (John Scalzi author of REDSHIRTS)

Review

It's transfixing to watch Monica Byrne become a major player in science fiction with her debut novel . . . Beautifully drawn people in a future that feels so close you can touch it, blended with lush language and concerns of myth. It builds a bridge from past to future, from East to West. Glorious stuff - Neil Gaiman

The Girl in the Road is a brilliant novel - vivid. sparky, fearless, intense with a kind of savage joy . . . utterly unforgettable - Kim Stanley Robinson

Utterly captivating . . . an electrifying debut - Helen Wecker author of THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI

The road trip novel you didn't know you were waiting for. A genuine and extraordinary journey. Take it - John Scalzi author of REDSHIRTS

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 914 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0349134219
  • Publisher: Blackfriars (20 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IA2E5CO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #101,483 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pilgrims of the Near Future 25 July 2014
By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Despite many interesting elements, great settings, and some really vivid writing, this debut near-future novel ended up as a bit of a disappointment for me. The book follows two narrative paths: one starts around 2040 or so, and follows 10-year-old slave girl Mariama as she hitches a ride from West Africa to freedom in Ethiopia, the other takes place around 20-30 years later and features 20-something Meena who is skipping out on her present life in bustling India order to delve into the murder of her parents in Addis Ababa before she was even born.

Obviously the two storylines are going to connect, and along the way Byrne does some great near-future world building both in terms of technologies and societies (no, it's not as good as Ian MacDonald's, but then again, whose is?). I'm always eager to see how writers envisage a near-future Africa, and Mariama's eastward journey shows an Africa overrun by competing Chinese and Indian interests. Meanwhile, a long chain of revolutionary metal connecting India to Djibouti captures wave energy as power supply of the future. It's also an illegal pilgrim's trail of sorts, one that seduces Meena toward an epic ocean-crossing of her own.

There is a lot going on in the book, challenging of gender roles, politics, capitalism, and some X-rated scenes (and I suppose in today's climate, one has to note that there's a distressing episode of pedophilia). Coupled with all this is the inherent unreliability of either narrator -- one due to age, innocence, and trauma, the other due to a mania that only gradually reveals itself as all-consumingly delusional. As the book builds to an end, it gets more and more hazy and, for lack of better word, spiritual in ways that I found completely unsatisfying. However, I will acknowledge that it's a theme that appeals to many, it's just not my thing.

Recommended for those seeking debut novels with a strong voice, especially from female writers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Debut Novel of This Year 20 May 2014
Format:Paperback
“The Girl in the Road” announces the arrival of a major new talent in literary mainstream fiction and speculative fiction, one Monica Byrne, whose anthropologically-oriented science fiction novel could be mistaken easily as something written during the Anglo-American “New Wave” literary movement in fantasy and science fiction of the 1960s and early 1970s; however, none of the writers back then were aware of nanotechnology, which plays an important role in the near future Africa and Asia that Byrne has envisioned for the middle 21st Century. In a literary style that may remind mainstream literary fiction readers of Teju Cole and Paul Theroux, with more than a nod or two to J. G. Ballard and Ursula K. Le Guin, Byrne recounts the incredible journeys of a young woman, Meena, and a young girl, Mariama, across the span of decades and across the Arabian Sea (Meena) and Saharan Africa (Mariama), that is told in first person primarily through their eyes. She introduces us to a near future not unlike the present, with poverty and war still an ever present danger in Saharan Africa, and with Ethiopia plagued by decades of economic and political strife dating from the latter half of the 20th Century. Across the Arabian Sea, India has emerged as the regional economic hegemon, its densely populated cities like Mumbai still teeming with people who willingly herd themselves into crowded trains filled with hundreds of people, while still retaining much of its traditional Hindu-dominated culture.

When Meena wakes up one morning in Mumbai, India, covered in snakebites, she resolves to return home, to the land of her birth, Ethiopia, a land she has not seen since her birth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended by Neil Gaiman 27 Aug. 2014
Format:Hardcover
I was so excited to read this book, particularly because I've never come across a non-Western apocalypse novel before. And it was recommended by Neil Gaiman! Double points.
The setting is a little disorientating at first- using words like mitter, pookalam, kurta, uthradam, idlee, sambar. But the plot is so fastpaced it pulled me in regardless of confusion, and I picked up enough to understand it.
I really loved the world building, the futuristic details like retinal scanners and cloud profiles, mixed with poverty and slums. I recently read Behind the beautiful forevers and it had a similar kind of juxtoposition of rich and poor that really rang true.
The technology references didn't feel forced either, like some future books.
A really unique and refreshing story that I'd love to read more of.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Lying in the road 11 Jan. 2015
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
It's the not-too-distant future. A corporation with the innocuous name of "HydraCorp" is in charge of India, everyone is microchipped, and terrorists are still killing people.

It does sound interesting. Too bad "The Girl in the Road: A Novel" rarely takes advantage of all the cool promise that it contains -- it feels like Monica Byrne had a cluster of interesting ideas, so she wrote a sci-fi novel until she ran out of those ideas. It's written in such a bland, almost bored style, never really evoking any emotions of fear, pain, desire or excitement... just a story that stretches on and on, patting itself on the back as it goes.

After waking up with snakebites, Meena is convinced that the people who killed her parents are now after her, so she flees to Mumbai. Since this is in the not-too-distant corporate dystopia, there is only one way of dodging tracking-chip surveillance -- the Trail. It's a floating corporate.... thing that spans the Arabian Ocean, and only the most devil-may-care are willing to swim out and illegally walk upon it. Or in Meena's case, the most desperate.

Well, not that desperate -- Meena has sex with a man, has sex with a woman, hangs around a pool, takes a tour, and keeps bumping into a girl who doesn't wear shoes. Eventually she gets around to buying supplies and setting out on her journey. We also follow Mariama, a young girl who also ends up on a journey to Ethiopia, protected by an enigmatic woman on the journey.

As I read through "The Girl in the Road," I was haunted by a single repeating remark: "I'm so brilliant, I'm so deep. I'm so brilliant, I'm so deep. I'm so brilliant, I'm so deep. I'M SO BRILLIANT, I'M SO DEEP! Take my book seriously! It deals with super-serious issues!
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