Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review - As Good as New

As Good as New
by Charlie Jane Anders
Date: 2014
Publisher: Tor Books
Reading level: A
Book type: short story
Pages: 32
Format: e-book

From the author of the Hugo-winning "Six Months, Three Days," a new wrinkle on the old story of three wishes, set after the end of the world.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Quirky and pretentious, this is a short story about a woman who finds a genie and his bottle after the end of the world and sets about trying to make things right. I wasn't impressed with the writing (here we have yet another author who doesn't know how to correctly punctuate dialogue), and the overall tone was both bland and affected. The MC's best friend's name was Julie for the first half, and Julia for the second, and there was even one spot where we were suddenly inside a non-POV character's head for one sentence. Editor?

The main character, Marisol, isn't too bad, but we don't really know much about who she is, beyond a few labels. The descriptions of her weird plays didn't help much, either; those just made me feel like she was trying way too hard to be an artiste. And Richard, the genie... Almost immediately, he's described as looking like a Jew, and then Marisol refers to him as a "self-loathing" genie. I went back and reread how the character was introduced, and I couldn't see anything that indicated self-loathing. So either the author was relying on a tired stereotype, or she was telling the reader about the character, rather than showing (which isn't great, either).

I didn't quite understand the wishes. I mean, I understood what they were, but Marisol's second wish pretty much eliminated the need for the third (and fourth) wishes, so I didn't really understand why she made them the way she did. I got the feeling that she was just trying to show how clever she was. She wouldn't make stupid wishes like all those other wishers of the past. She was too smart to do the things that would lead to apocalyptic results. Well, good for you, Marisol. But you basically wasted two wishes. She had all the time in the world to think about how to overcome any loopholes or paradoxes, so you'd think she would've been able to come up with something better... or at least a little more interesting. (Technically, she wouldn't have had a lot of time, but we're operating under the assumption that frozen microwave dinners have infinite viability. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to eat those after a few years, no matter how good your freezer was.)

This review is threatening to overtake the story itself, as far as word count goes, so I'll just end it here. Not terrible, but not great, and probably pretty forgettable. I'm sure there are better genie stories out there.

Quotable moment:

Maybe she would have done more good as a playwright than as a doctor, after all—clichés were like plaque in the arteries of the imagination, they clogged the sense of what was possible. Maybe if enough people had worked to demolish clichés, the world wouldn’t have ended.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall Rating: 2.26 out of 5 ladybugs

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