Review - The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

The Girl in the Road - Monica Byrne

I was offered this one by the publicist and very nearly turned it down because I'm shallow and I judge books by covers. 

 

But then I read the blurb and that pulled me back in.

 

 "In a world where global power has shifted East and revolution is brewing, a young woman sets out from her home in India on a desperate, profound journey of escape and discovery." 

 

Sounds a bit dystopian, no?  Ok, I'm in.

 

And now I'm sitting here staring at the screen because I have absolutely no idea how to describe what I just read.  Did I like it?  Yeah, kinda.  Did I understand it?  Nope. 

I think I'm punching above my weight with this one, to be honest.  I just don't know what to make of it..

 

I'm disappointed and a little beyond frustrated because in theory this should have been right up my alley.  Futuristic/Dystopian with an unusual and interesting setting.  But I just don't get it.  It seemed too much like hard work.

 

The world building is very well done and I really felt like I was on 'The Trail' with Meena and Mariama (although I still can't work out why anyone would want to make that journey) .  Sometimes it was a little hard to work out which of the two I was with but by that point I was just trotting alongside, trying to keep up and going with the flow.  I usually like a dual timeline/POV story but there's a LOT of jumping around going on and that makes it a bit hard to follow at times.  Maybe that's the point...they're very similar?  

 

The language was sometimes a bit hard to warm to as a lot of it was unfamiliar to me and more than once I had to stop and roll the new words around for a bit to get a feel for them.  (I think that's why I also don't read a lot of Sci-Fi and/or High Fantasy.  I just can't get used to all the new names and language.  But I digress...)

 

The futuristic technology was very well done though.  It felt like the gizmo's and gadgets were things that we probably have the technology for today, just that nobody has the expertise to make them yet.  Most of it is familiar whilst being unfamiliar at the same time.  It's like telling someone in 1990 what an mp3 player with 16GB of memory is about.  They know what a computer is but even the fast one's have like 256MB of memory so a little thing the size of your palm with that much memory is just too much for them to take in.  They're there...but not quite there. 

 

All in all I think my lukewarm reaction to this has more to do with me than with the book.  The author is like a modern Margaret Attwood (if Margaret was edgier and gorier) and I think that maybe this will appeal to fans of The Handmaid's Tale, and similar stories.  Personally I was never one of Margaret's fans :/

 

It's a tough one.  It's a good story and there's no doubt the author has a way with words but it just lost me early on and I never really managed to get back on board.

 

If you're offered this one then I'd definitely say to go for it.  It's very different to a lot of what's out there already and I think it's possibly a marmite read so you might get lucky.  ( I'm team 'I Don't Like Marmite'  :P )

 

*Note - I was sent a complimentary copy of this title by the publisher*