Thursday, August 8, 2013

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Title: Love in the Time of Global Warming
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Series: n/a
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company BFYR
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Source: ARC from publisher for review
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

So, this is my first ever Francesca Lia Block novel, which is surprising, considering her catalog.  I'm not sure how her other novels would fare with me, but if this story is any indication, I need to add them all to my TBR.  It wasn't just the phenomenal writing or the vivid characters that kept me enthralled with this book, though those things didn't hurt.

No, what most kept me coming back -- no, racing to finish dinner and kid's baths so that I could continue reading -- were the parallels between this novel and Homer's The Odyssey.  I have a profound love for that story and its epicness, one that's only grown since the first time I read it back in junior high.  I've often imagined myself as Odysseus, traversing a perilous landscape in search of home.  For Pen, home isn't necessarily a place, as her father often reminded her before the Earth Shaker.

As it often seems, it's only after one loses everything that the truth of the matter really hits them.  With the loss of her family, her friends, the life as she knew it, Pen has also lost herself.  We meet her right before she tragically becomes a lost girl, but even before that, it was plain to see that Pen was lost, and only through this epic journey of hers will she become the person she was meant to be.  I loved the use of flashbacks to tell her story, to show how her life was pre-tragedy, as well as how the author paralleled her story with that of Odysseus', including a lot of the same otherworldly elements from the original poem.

But I also loved the addition of some rather odd characters to help her on her journey to find her family...and herself.  You will need an open mind to truly understand the beauty of each of these characters, as each faces the reality of their LGBT identities and what it means in this wrecked world, if it even matters at all now.  I applaud the author and the publisher for including such astounding diversity in a young adult novel, and I hope it's well received.

This book is rather short compared to most of the YA novels I read these days, but that doesn't mean it's short on material or awesomeness.  The plot is quick-paced.  The action isn't relentlessly intense, but our weary travelers are always on the move, and they are often faced with danger on their quest.  The world-building, like that of the original tale, is stunning and magical, making it just as easy for me to envision myself as Pen on her journey as it was for me to imagine myself as Odysseus all those years ago.  I love how the author incorporated new and old into this story to make a retelling that is all her own.

Like I said, go into this story with an open mind and an open heart, and you'll have a better chance of fully appreciating what the author has done with Pen's tale of disaster and love.  Obviously, I recommend this for fans of The Odyssey, but it's also a great read for anyone who's a fan of the epic quest.  This story is more fantasy than reality, so I think a lot more can be forgiven than in the standard post-apocalyptic novel, and I think it makes the story that much more enjoyable.  But I'm also saying that as a major fan of fantasy novels who's had her fill of dystopian and post-apocalyptic books that refuse to cross -- or even toe -- the line.  If you're looking for something different, look no further.

Rating:   photo 4-1.png

Teaser & A 5yo's Thoughts  

About the author:

Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales.

She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go Go Boots and a beagle mix named Thumper.

She left only to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She has often professed her love of Los Angeles, calling it a "Jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city," which she has nicknamed in her books "Shangri-LA."

Find Francesca:

Website | BlogTwitter | Goodreads | Facebook


  1. Well, I'm sold. I love all things mythology, and I enjoyed her Weetzie Bat books (although I read them a lonnnnng time ago). Thanks for the review, I'll definitely have to grab a copy of this :)

  2. This book sounds pretty amazing! I love THE ODYSSEY, and I think it's fantastic that the author is attempting to open people's minds through her work. I'll definitely have to check this one out.

    Amber @ Fall Into Books

  3. Great review. I really like the cover and description. Seems like an interesting book.

  4. Lovely review. It looks really interesting.

  5. awesome review. I am new to this author too and can't wait to get my hands on this book. I am so glad to see you really liked it.

  6. Sounds interesting! I plan on checking it out! And that cover.... *sighs*

    ~Remy @ Books In Her Head

  7. Lovely review! I love Block's books and I've read quite a few of them. You definitely have to check out her Weetzie Bat series. Also Psyche in a Dress, while it may not be my favorite by her, the mythology in this book is amazing. Block has a way of writing that is just so unique and easy to fly threw.

  8. I've actually never read The Odyssey or any famous novels LOL but this sounds very different. From the synopsis I was actually quite confused as to what this was even about. Sounds like a sad books with a lot of loss but great journey into figuring out the truth of things. Interesting that it shows how each character faces the reality of their LGBT identities.

  9. I am obsessed with the Odyssey and now I MUST read this. Great review!

  10. I really enjoyed this book as well! I had read Block's Strange Angels (I recommend that one if you like her stuff) so I was familiar with her style. I love the take on the Odyssey as well--but WHAT an original take, no? I hope more people pick this one up and give it a try because I thought it was fascinating:) Great review!


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