I can’t get over how sad I am about the fact that I didn’t fall in love with this book!
I really wanted to! It seemed like the perfect book for me. A literary dystopia. I’ve even heard it likened to Atwood’s speculative novels. And it does have really good moments! But most of the time it felt like the story was just meandering without getting to the point. Without getting anywhere really.
The premise is actually perfect. After most of the population has been wiped out by a deadly virus we follow a group of actors and musicians called “The Travelling Symphony”. Twenty years after the end of the world they travel from settlement to settlement performing music and Shakespeare’s plays. The narrative switches between the past and the present and also between different characters who we come see are connected in various ways. It’s a novel about the importance and value of art and culture; about survival and how just surviving is not enough.
These are all topics and themes that attract me, which is why I absolutely wanted to read the book. And why I totally expected to love it. But somehow I was not drawn into the story and I can’t quite fathom why that is. Sometimes I thought the writing was a bit off – there was a sentence that stretched over more than ten lines! – but that wasn’t really it. The more I think about it the more I come to the conclusion that it was the characters. They were not fleshed out enough. I never imagined them as more than just characters in a book; they never became people to me. I want to give this a better review but regrettably I can’t. This is not at all a bad book; but it’s not great either. It’s a good novel. Unfortunately nothing more and nothing less.