Monday, 23 December 2019

Book review: Space Invaders, Nona Fernandez (2019)

This diminutive novel – it took me about two hours to read – is in actual fact a novella and the development of character is meagre. The action takes place over periods marked out by different years – it starts in 1981 and there is a later section dated 1994 – and involves a group of schoolchildren who are caught up in civil unrest. The author, a Chilean actress, has strong opinions about the role of representative government and this is her way of expressing them.

This author is a good name to look out for, but I personally hope that her next foray into fiction is just a tad longer. The characters needed a bit more development in order to fully engage the reader, and to pass on the messages of tolerance and equity the author cherishes.

Choosing children to convey such complex themes is interesting and I felt that this approach had tremendous promise. I was looking forward to learning more about each of the people named – we are given their surnames, as happens in secondary school everywhere – but in the end I was left feeling abandoned. Perhaps this was the author’s intention, I cannot know from this distance and having never spoken with her.

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