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Review: Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

>>Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Title: Ammonite
Author: Nicola Griffith
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 397
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: April 30th, 2002 (first 1992)
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: B+

From Goodreads: Change or die. These are the only options available on the planet Jeep. Centuries earlier, a deadly virus shattered the original colony, killing the men and forever altering the few surviving women. Now, generations after the colony has lost touch with the rest of humanity, a company arrives to exploit Jeep–and its forces find themselves fighting for their lives. Terrified of spreading the virus, the company abandons its employees, leaving them afraid and isolated from the natives. In the face of this crisis, anthropologist Marghe Taishan arrives to test a new vaccine. As she risks death to uncover the women’s biological secret, she finds that she, too, is changing–and realizes that not only has she found a home on Jeep, but that she alone carries the seeds of its destruction. . . .

Ammonite is an unforgettable novel that questions the very meanings of gender and humanity. As readers share in Marghe’s journey through an alien world, they too embark on a parallel journey of fascinating self-exploration.

Why did I read this book? It's the August selection for Calico Reactions's Alphabet Soup book club! I was also really interested in the premise; I wanted to see how Griffith created her all-women world.

Source: Library

My Review
I finished Ammonite a few days ago and I found I couldn't write my review right away. I just needed to think about what I thought about the book and how I should put that into my review.

Generally, I really enjoyed Ammonite. It was one of those books that after the first few pages, I knew I was hooked. And I was, right up until the end. That's saying something since I did have some issues with the book but the writing and pacing were done so well that I found myself coming back to it whenever I had a few spare minutes.

What really hooked me was the premise of the plot. Marghe, an anthropologist, for her own reasons, accepts a mission to the planet Jeep to study the native people. These people, humans, had colonized the planet generations ago and suffered through a virus that killed all the men and some women. Now, much later, the colony is still thriving: the women have survived and even managed to reproduce without males. I was just as fascinated and interested about finding out about this planet and it's inhabitants as Marghe. Additionally, once Marghe made it to the planet, we meet Commander Danner, the woman in charge of the Company soldiers stationed on the planet. They are waiting for a vaccine for the virus so they can be allowed to return home. I didn't expect it but I came to be really caught up in Danner's plight and the character herself. She's a strong women in a very unfortunate situation: her and her team are stuck on the planet and have no idea how to or if they will ever leave and they don't know how to work with the natives. I came to like other women on her team including Lu Wai and Dogias.

The novel does switch from Marghe's story to Danners throughout the novel but it's more concentrated on Marghe's. One of my main issues was that I wasn't very fond of Marghe. I didn't really relate to her as much others and I found her story just a means for us to discover Jeep and its inhabitants. I appreciated her adventures but not because I really was connected to her, but because I was so interested in finding out more about Jeep.

That brings me to another great point: Jeep and it's people are the meat of the story. It's all about discovering how the author creates an all-female civilization socially and also, with reproduction, scientifically. I was really happy with how it all turned out.

Rating: B+
Overally, I really liked this book and think it was a very rewarding and unique experience. I had some issues with it and maybe you will too, but I think it's definitely worth reading. The adventure, mystery and discovery of the planet Jeep and meeting all the diverse characters really solidifies this book as a great read.

1 comment:

  1. I ended up liking this quite a bit too, even though I didn't *love* it. I definitely agree that it's a unique and rewarding reading experience as well.

    I think one of my favorite things about it was how all the women that Griffith wrote about were strong female characters without being attributed male characteristics -- they were strong AND feminine.



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