Mini-Review: The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

The Best of All Possible Worlds
Karen Lord

Del Ray
I received an e-ARC from the publisher in return for a review.
Released February 12, 2013
308 pages
Science Fiction / Romance

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Karen Lord’s debut novel, the multiple-award-winning Redemption in Indigo, announced the appearance of a major new talent—a strong, brilliantly innovative voice fusing Caribbean storytelling traditions and speculative fiction with subversive wit and incisive intellect. Compared by critics to such heavyweights as Nalo Hopkinson, China Miéville, and Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord does indeed belong in such select company—yet, like them, she boldly blazes her own trail.

Now Lord returns with a second novel that exceeds the promise of her first. The Best of All Possible Worlds is a stunning science fiction epic that is also a beautifully wrought, deeply moving love story.

A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.

Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.

I feel really bad about the way I treated this book. I ignored it. Set it off to the side when other, shinier books walked in front of me. Pretended I couldn’t hear it as it whispered my name to pick it up again. I left it to the dust unless it was convenient for me. I only gave it my attention if I was stuck somewhere with nothing but my Kindle for company, a last resort in the face of absolute boredom.

And because of that I must apologize for The Best of All Possible Worlds. I severely mistreated you and therefore don’t feel comfortable in declaring a solid opinion about your merits. I started you in the waiting room of a doctor’s office in December, picked you up again while waiting at another appointment a month later, and our abusive relationship continued month after month until I started to take actually lunches at work and I turned to you for companionship. Over six months after reading the first apocalyptic pages, I finally finished it, feeling guilty at how I mistreated it after the end was so enjoyable.

Karen Lord has created a subtle story about a misplaced people trying to find their place amidst their distant genetic cousins across a universe. It opens with a world destroyed, killing the majority of an entire sub-species of humans, and it ends with the remaining few finding hope that they can continue their traditions and pass on their genes in a slightly altered manner. It’s all very quiet with very little adventure and a truly adult romance built on understanding and intellect rather than passionate and a ridiculously strong libido. It’s truly an adult novel when I have buried myself in a sea of instant gratification YA books with page after page of adventure, witty dialogue and swoon-worthy romances.

In retrospect I wish I had given The Best of All Possible Worlds the attention it deserved because once I started reading it more consistently – even just a few percentage points a day during my lunch – the magic created by Lord and her worlds of distantly related human sub-species was charming and understated, a perfect relief from the adventures I’ve been diving into.

 

I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review, which makes me doubly guilty for mistreating it.