10 November 2010
Day 228: Grace
I really wonder what some of the reviewers on Goodreads and book blogs found appealing in this. Grace was hardly a character at all, which is unfortunately since the "story" is told completely from her point of view. I suppose one could argue that since her role in the community has always been as an outcast or to die for a cause that she never would have had a chance to develop, but Scott tries to push some aspects of character on her.
So anyway, blah blah blah, supposed to be a suicide bomber but inexplicably decides she wants to live after years of brainwashing. Grace escapes, or is let go (there's no real sense of urgency), from The People who wanted her to die for their cause and hops a train out of the country where she sits for four days reflecting on her life and everything she was taught. At some point she magically realizes that both The People she was fighting for and the totalitarian government she was fighting against were more or less the same thing.
Eh, let's go with the obvious here.
I have the benefit of living in a country where even at its worst I have had no desire to strap a bomb to myself, or anyone else, and blow stuff up. Granted, if I ever want to travel via plane I will certainly be treated that way, maybe not as much as someone with swarthy skin and a Muslim name, but I sometimes get approached when I'm wearing one of my many Antioch College t-shirts. As crazy as our governing system makes me, and as useless as I think our candidate options are, I don't have a desire to change the system so much as I wish we had more options.
But we do still have them, even if it does seem like choosing between Mounds and Almond Joy some days, and other days it feels like it's impossible to even tell the difference. Suicide bombing is for people who are in desperate situations, who feel that this really is the only way to change things, that lives are only useful as a vehicle of destruction to overthrow the current regime. That is a scary, scary place to live in.
And sadly I didn't see that in this novel. It all felt so common place, and maybe that should have made it scarier, or maybe put me in a place to think, "If I were in Grace's shoes I might be used as a suicide bomber, too." But I just don't think that's the case. I don't think that is something that I could ever do. I suppose that it's always possible that with the right amount of conditioning and circumstances and poor quality of life then maybe I would think differently. I just can't imagine being so blasé at the thought of setting off a bomb that would kill myself, my target, and everyone surrounding me. I think you really have to be born with a particular kind of mindset to be susceptible to that kind of reasoning.
Now, train me on a sniper riffle and give me a target and a good reason to pull the trigger and I might just be as dangerous as the CIA/FBI thinks I am with my liberal arts degree education, tendency to vote liberal, and history as a 4th generation Unitarian Universalist.
My review can be found on Goodreads.