Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book Review: The Girl in the Road

"Monica Byrne bursts on to the literary scene with an extraordinary vision of the future.  In a world where global power has shifted east and revolution is brewing, two women embark on vastly different journeys—each harrowing and urgent and wholly unexpected."
Rating: 3/5
Byrne's book tells the stories of Meena and Mariama who are on two parallel journeys set decades apart.  Both are running for upsetting events that have happened in their life.  Meena is a girl living around 2060 who makes the decision to embark on the Trail, which is a alternative energy conductor that runs from India to Africa. The Trail has kind of become a nomad area for society's outcasts.  Her journey to Africa, Ethiopia specifically, has a purpose.  Mariama is a young girl living in Africa and also making the trip to Ethiopia.  Her story takes place around 30 years before Meena's and before the energy crisis that brings about the Trail.  Their stories end up colliding in a way you never see coming.
What I Liked:
I was really interested in the energy technology and the world of the future that Byrne built.  The future of this novel seemed plausible and was in some ways, realistic to how you would imagine our future to be.   The climate and energy issues are something that could very well happen if we do not redirect our course and the solution to these problems, within The Girl in the Road, seem like sustainable resolutions.  The Trail harnesses what is called Blue energy and is the successor to Green energy.  The Trail is built of large upside down pyramids that have bobber like pieces connecting each piece.  The top of the pyramid has solar panels and the bobbers harness the wave energy.  The whole piece is connected to the ocean floor and can submerge itself for ships to pass.
I also liked the type of pansexual culture in this book. Everyone was free to love and be who they wanted to be. There was even something called transracial where you could genetically modify yourself to be whatever ethnicity you wanted. I did find it interesting that a caste type of system was still widely referred to and people were still judged based on this.  For a society to be so free and nonjudgmental of a person's sexual choices but still to be judged based on what group you were born into, I guess some things don't change even 40 years in the future.  
I found myself more invested and interested in Meena's story than Mariama's.  It was easier for me to connect to Meena even though she was crazy.  That's the other thing, it seems like everyone was slightly crazy/off in the future. I'm not sure what it was but people were either crazy or they were agitated.  No one you see in the book is truly happy.
I thought I had the book figured out but the twist at the end when you final figure out how the two girls are connected threw me off.  It was definitely not what I was expecting.

What I Didn't Like:
The story did not grab me the way I thought it would after reading the summary.  I for sure thought this was going to be a book I loved and it just fell flat for me.  I can't quite put my finger on what exactly I didn't like.  And to be honest, I didn't love the ending.  It felt like there was so much build up about Meena getting to Africa and then when it actually happened, you were kind of left feeling like "that's it'?  Mariama's story did wrap up nicely and that is where the connect lies, without going into too much detail.  I feel like her side of it was atleast told and had a natural ending.  I also had a hard time connecting with the religious side of it.  There were elements of multiple religions and strong, powerful goddess type of figures.  

I gave this book a solid 3 because I enjoyed the book more than I disliked it.  I would definitely check out Byrne's future works as I liked her writing style and thought the book premise was inventive.
I will note that there was one very brief scene that if you are sensitive to things happening with children, might turn you off.  It was only about a half page and it was not very graphic but I know some readers will not like it.
Definitely check this book out if you are interested in futuristic societies and stories of personal evolution.

 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


  1. Man, I hate when a summary has me all pumped only to be slightly belaboring to read. Sounds like a cool book though, glad you liked it more than you hated it :)

    1. It was a decent book but I was disappointed that I didn't love it. I also feel bad because I got it for review and I'm not raving what a good book it was.

  2. I love hearing your thoughts on all these books! I would love a book recommendation list- I'm working on secret history right now.

    1. Good idea! I have a post that I'm working on my top all time favorite books. And I loved The Secret History. What do you think of it? I haven't read The Goldfinch yet though.