April 24, 2003

Beggars and Choosers by Nancy Kress

Beggars and Choosers is a sequel to Kress's Beggars in Spain. The book takes up pretty much where its predecessor left off. The US is stratified into the genetically modified ruling class and everyone else who makes up a completely dependent leisure class. Early in the book we find out that the super-enhanced characters from the first book are up to something, but we don't really find out what until the very end of the book. Kress depicts a US on the verge of some kind of revolution. She rotates through a half-dozen point of view characters, none of whom have any idea what is really going on. Technological gadgetry is breaking down, but no one knows why. While all of this uncertainty is, perhaps, a realistic situation, it doesn't make for a very compelling story line. The plot feels like a setup and conclusion laboriously pried apart to book length by a meandering series of minor occurrences. Not to say that it wasn't fun to read. Kress is a good enough writer to make the book a page turner, it's just that when you get to the startling conclusion, it's hard to look back and see what all the stuff you read had to do with getting there. Maybe that's the whole problem. Maybe the book is really a subtle musing on the nature of human society (all the stuff in the middle) artificially bracketed by a gee-whiz sf-nal conundrum. Or maybe I'm missing the whole point.

Posted by jeffy at April 24, 2003 10:00 PM

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