Tuesday, March 9, 2010
"Libyrinth" by Pearl North
Musings: Although I found mostly middling reviews on Libyrinth, I was intrigued by North's use of literature throughout the young adult novel. The books speak to Haly, and these are not unknown books, but books we are all familiar with: Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl, Lord of the Flies, and Charlotte's Web, just to name a few. I had a hoped for a kind of YA-Thursday Next (albeit without the humor), and I was in that sense somewhat disappointed. Although quotes from novels pepper Libyrinth intermittently and speak apropos to Haly's current situation, they didn't feel like a fully integrated part of the book.
Haly and Clauda were somewhat generic characters for me, and although I wished them success, I didn't feel especially connected to them either. The novel does largely succeed, however, in its commentary on the power and dangers of knowledge, and North was able to take a slightly different approach to censorship. The Libryarian's rightly treasure books and the knowledge they possess, but they also hoard that knowledge, keeping it only for the elite within the Libryrinth. The Eradicants (or Singers) fear literacy and destroy books, but through singing they ensure that all people have equal access to information. Of course, both groups must come together in the end. The reconciliation is perhaps overly optimistic (and, for me, a bit cheesy), but the message is nonetheless valid.
Unexpectedly, this book qualifies for both the POC Reading Challenge and the GLBT Reading Challenge. I had been looking for books in the sci-fi/fantasy realm for those challenges, so it was especially exciting to unknowingly find one that fit both. Haly is part Thesian, a group of dark-skinned people, and numerous Thesian characters are in the novel (the cover also seems to depict Haly well!). Clauda is a lesbian, and although her sexuality is not a large part of the book, same sex relationships are periodically mentioned and are clearly an accepted part of this society.
In the end, Libyrinth wasn't a favorite, but I liked it more than I thought I would after reading a few other reviews.
***This book qualifies for the POC Reading Challenge and the GLBT Reading Challenge 2010.