Completed: February 9, 2014
Length: 256 Pages
Synopsis from Goodreads:
With his vivid, stylized prose, cyberpunk intensity, and seemingly limitless imagination, Jack Womack has been compared to both William Gibson and Kurt Vonnegut - though Gibson admits, "If you dropped the characters from Neuromancer into Womack's Manhattan, they'd fall down screaming and have nervous breakdowns". Random Acts of Senseless Violence, Womack's fifth novel, is a thrilling, hysterical, and eerily disturbing piece of work.
Lola Hart is an ordinary twelve-year-old girl. She comes from a comfortable family, attends an exclusive private school, loves her friends Lori and Katherine, teases her sister Boob. But in the increasingly troubled city where she lives (a near-future Manhattan) she is a dying breed. Riots, fire, TB outbreaks, roaming gangs, increasing inflation, political and civil unrest all threaten her way of life, as well as the very fabric of New York City.
In her diary, Lola chronicles the changes she and her family make as they attempt to adjust to a city, and a country, that is spinning out of control. Her mother is a teacher, but no one is hiring. Her father is a writer, but no one is buying his scripts. Hounded by creditors and forced to vacate their apartment and move to Harlem, her family, and her life, begins to dissolve. Increasingly estranged from her privileged school friends, Lola soon makes new ones: Iz, Jude, and Weezie - wise veterans of the street who know what must be done in order to survive and are more than willing to do it. And the metamorphosis of Lola Hart, who is surrounded by the new language and violence of the streets, begins.
Simultaneously chilling and darkly hilarious, Random Acts of Senseless Violence takes the jittery urban fears we suppress, both in fiction and in daily life, and makes them explicit - and explicitly terrifying.Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre? Fiction. Science-fiction.
What lead you to pick up this book? Jo Walton. She talks about it in What Makes this Book so Great, you can read the essay on Tor.com here, and she ponders why this book is not better known. It is one of her favourite books and many people have never even heard of it. I had never heard of it before, so it was the first book I wanted to read because of her.
Summarize the Plot: Well, it's kind of random... There is violence on the street, the presidents keep dying, and there are dust clouds... We have no idea why. Instead we follow Lola Hart and her family through the difficult times. Her parents both can't get work in the current economy which forces Lola to go from an upper-middle class lifestyle to just getting by. The experiences and friendships change Lola and we watch the transformation.
What did you like most about this book? It's different. How have I never heard of it before? It definitely should be better known and wider read. It addresses issues that are illuminating to current circumstances. It also shows everything from the viewpoint of a child forced to grow-up quickly. She is still trying to have her 'childhood' moments, though. I liked that even with her being young it was still believable for her to write older and not be the scribbles of a young person with no details.
What did you the least? It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but as Lola lives longer and longer in a 'rougher' area... She starts talking like them. It made what is actually a rather short book take a bit longer to get through. Like I said, no necessarily a good thing, and I understand why he did it, but it is worth mentioning.
What did you think of the writing style? The book is told through diary entries. Sometimes this can be really good for me, and sometimes it is terrible. Thankfully, this worked well. As I said above Lola had to grow up fast in many ways, so it made the writing style believable in providing details. It was a very personal way to tell about what was a horrible, and unhappy, life.
What did you think of the main character? For the most part, I really liked Lola. There were times where I didn't, but you could understand where she was coming from. I find that by the time I got to the end of the book I really knew who she was, what she has gone through, and where she was headed. It made for some unpleasant reading at times!
What did you think of the ending? I actually really wanted more... The ending was pretty clear on what was going to happen after she finished the last page of her diary, but I still wanted to watch it all unfold. I am pretty sure this is a standalone book, so I guess I will never find out for sure. I find myself thinking about Lola and her future and the difficult things she had to face, though, so it was a good ending.
I am so happy I read this book! It was really good, will make you think, and I need to see what else Jack Womack wrote!! (It is also one of those books I am not sure I effectively reviewed...)