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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Review: Rarity from the Hollow, Robert Eggleton

Note: I received an ebook copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Blurb from author:

"Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who's very skilled at laying fiber optic cable. Lacy Dawn's android boyfriend has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth's earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop 'till You Drop): he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save the Universe in exchange for the designation of Earth as a planet which is eligible for continued existence within a universal economic structure that exploits underdeveloped planets for their mineral content. Lacy Dawn’s magic enables her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family."

Rarity from the Hollow is unlike any book I have come across before. If one were to put it into a genre it would probably be classed as Science Fiction but that is too simple. There is a lot of social commentary in the book, provided through the way Lacy Dawn's family live. Her father is a veteran with PTSD and her mother is (at first) submissive, walking on eggshells because of her husband's condition, careful not to provoke his rages, and does not have enough social capacity to mother her daughter like she needs to. Consequently, Lacy Dawn is much more complex - and more messed up - than others of her age. Thanks to the 'plug in' sessions with her android boyfriend, who seems to want to download all of human knowledge into her brain, she acts as kind of a psychotherapist to the kids at school, all of whom seem far too aware for their age what is wrong with them and why. One of her best friends we soon find out to be a ghost, and Lacy Dawn regularly talks with the trees near her house who try to help her navigate this tricky stage of life. All Lacy Dawn wants to do is to save her family and make it into sixth grade.

That's just the stuff on earth. When DotCom (the android boyfriend) takes Lacy Dawn and her father to Shptiludrp, they find out that part of Lacy Dawn's mission to save the universe involves a huge amount of shopping, by taking things to sell on earth, in order to save earth from exploitation of its minerals and other precious resources. Lacy Dawn gets into tough negotiations with the Manager of the Mall on Shptiludrp, in order to protect earth, before finding out the real danger to Earth, and consequently, the universe (spoiler alert....................a mammoth infestation of roaches).

This book won't be for everyone. It certainly isn't easy reading, but it is very interesting, and a lot of what happens that seems pretty painful and messed up is authentic and tugs on the heartstrings, its authenticity no doubt due to the author's social work background. Eggleton certainly has a flair for the complex and weaving in many issues without a plot overload. It works because he gets the characters right. 

In summary, if you're up for a challenging read, and are prepared to face some hard questions and - maybe like me - tough it out through some bits, then give it a try. It'll certainly be like nothing you've tried before. 

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