Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Disunited States of America by Harry Turtledove

Justin Monroe and his mother travel to an alternate United States where the Constitution was never created. Each state has broken off and formed its own country. Becky Royer, a young girl from the country of California, journeys with her grandmother to her hometown, Elizabeth, Virginia, so her grandmother can say her final goodbyes. She meets Justin there just as war breaks out between Ohio and Virginia. Ohio releases a tailored virus, trapping the two in Virginia under quarantine. Becky can't return to California, and Justin can't return to the United States he calls home. As those around them begin getting sick and the war intensifies, they struggle to find a way to get to their respective homes, alive and well.

I thought that the book had a fascinating storyline, and that the action was well-developed. However, the language was poorly executed. As the characters conversed, their dialogue was forced and its sole purpose was to further the plot. It broke the believable world of the story. Also, the narration used too much slang, as though the author was trying to incorporate the characters' styles into every aspect of the book: the scenery, the descriptions, the action. Though the story is told from Justin's point of view, Justin himself is not telling the story, and again, it discredited the world Harry Turtledove was trying to create. The character development was unbelievable as well. Either they were 100% heroic, or they had annoying weaknesses that became their entire character. It was hard to relate to the characters, because they were too lucky and too perfect (or absolutely flawed) to allow the reader to sympathize much with their struggles. Though the idea of the book was exciting, I had to force myself to finish it because of all the obvious shortcomings.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Overland Park, Kansas United States