I don’t often post my reviews of books from the big publishing houses here on the blog, but seeing as Mr. Perry is a native of the Chippewa Valley and, well, you know, constantly defeats me as number one (and sometimes 2 as well) favorite author for the same region, I figured I might as well put out on here how I feel about my competition…you know…the competition that I’m really not in any form of competition with.
Actually, to be honest, I’ve held back from reading any of Perry’s books for a long time. I’ve heard folks say wonderful things about his writing. My in-laws tend to adore him. In other words…I’ve found myself quite envious of his successes and thought it would be terrible to find out that he actually deserved them.
As you’ll find out below…he mostly does.
Anyhoo, as I was saying, I had avoided picking up any of his books for a long time, but when I passed by The Scavengers on the library shelf a couple weeks ago, I kept on walking…but then I suddenly turned around and said, I should probably give it a read.
And so it was…and so here’s the review:
The Scavengers by Michael Perry does something quite special. It mixes Perry’s standard home town folksy narrative with that of a dystopian science fiction novel. The combination of the two genres is quite striking. From the first moment to the last, you feel a sort of nostalgia toward this future that never existed. A remnant of your own childhood pokes through into the life of Ford Falcon, or at least some remnant of your imaginative playtime as a child.
In truth, Perry does an amazing job at building the world of The Scavengers. We see a great history of food troubles, of government/corporate partnerships, of health care issues, and a whole host of other things that ultimately make this book feel incredibly real. Even the locations for each segment of the tale have a rich history, showcasing how they might have gotten to the state they are in at the time of the novel.
Some may feel as though this world building takes over a bit on the novel. And it does probably take about half of the book before we’re even directly introduced to the true issue at hand. But if you can sit back and enjoy the imagery Perry builds, there’s due to be a great amount of enjoyment gained from it.
In all, this book turns out to be quite the spectacular read. It might move a tad slower than most other mainstream dystopian fiction (I hear a voice in my head saying “but that’s just how things go ’round these parts”), but ultimately I think the juxtaposition of genres works. I’d like to see Perry delve more into the subject matter and see what he can do once he’s got the world-building out of the way, as the final third of the book really moves along and gets you wanting to explore the pieces of the book we only get a glimpse at, such as the bubble cities themselves.
In conclusion….I actually liked the book a lot and feel that I should give his standard genre reads a look, you know, to be completely fair with my judgment of him. Turns out, he probably deserves winning over me time and again. Although, I’d love to see Ford Falcon go up against Cyrus Rhodes (well…actually, Eve Gardner would be a much better matchup, wouldn’t it?)