Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: The Year of the Boar by Anneke Majors

Title: The Year of the Boar
Author: Anneke Majors
Enjoyment Rating: 6/10
Referral: I saw that there will be a review in the upcoming issue of Irreantum and decided to read it
Source: Kindle for iPad
Books I've read this year: 3

I was so excited to read The Year of the Boar because it combines my love of "serious" LDS literature with a bunch of stories about Chinese people. We always talk about how we're a world church, but so many of our stories take place in the mountain west, and I loved the idea that there was a book that didn't just take the story out of Utah, but it took much of it out of the United States. I was also intrigued when I heard that the book worked as sort of a fiction/nonfiction hybrid, because I'm really interested in genre-blending.

Majors has set an ambitious goal for herself in juggling the elements of story and a setting all over the world (there are scenes in Texas, Montana, China, Japan, France, and Africa, and I don't think that list is complete). I think her writing is clear and concise throughout, but I ultimately found the stories very hard to follow. If I'd read them as individual vignettes, I think my expectations would have been different, but I was expecting the stories to tie together, to be more novelistic, and I think there's enough evidence that there is supposed to be some kind of cohesive message from the piece as a whole, but it was hard for me to glean what it was. As a very well-written series of family stories, I think the piece succeeds (although I'm not sure the final chapter works, much as I would like to see Majors's vision come to fruition), but as a novel with appeal beyond a small audience, I think the connections between the sections need to be a little clearer. Even a list of characters on the opening pages would have helped me immensely.

I hope this isn't seen as a negative review, because I really, really applaud Majors for choosing to tackle a Mormon history that isn't a Utah history. I love the places that this book points in our shared future as Mormon writers, and for that reason I think it's an important book.

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