Thursday, December 21, 2023

Mini-Review: The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente

The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente
Publication Date: July 20th, 2021
Hardcover. 160 pages.

About The Past is Red:
"The future is blue. Endless blue...except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown.

Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she's the only one who knows it. She's the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it's full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time.

But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.

The Past is Red follows Tetley Abednego, one of a small population of survivors the remain on earth after devastating climate change has caused a majority of the world to end up underwater. Tetley tells readers about her life in Garbagetown, which is far more captivating than you might think. This short novel is an expanded version from a story found within one of her previous releases, The Future is Blue

What I liked: Catherynne M. Valente always writes with such vivid and elaborate prose (which is why she's one of my favorite authors) and The Past is Red felt absolutely trademark Valente. I loved the vibrancy of Garbagetown–despite the fact that it's not exactly a lovely world to most people–and how readers are thrown right into this future world and are then guided around by our animated protagonist, whose excitement for the world around her was immensely enjoyable. A common problem I see with short novels and novellas set in a unique setting is a lack of world-building and ability to really understand or connect with anything, and this was not at all a problem in Garbagetown. I was surprised by different things throughout the story and really appreciated that this felt like something truly imaginative and with a strong message about our present and our future, as well as the fact that it packed a bit of an emotional punch (which I didn't expect, but really should have given it's Catherynne M. Valente!). 

What I didn't like: Believe it or not, I don't really don't think I have anything to add here. I would say that for anyone looking for something a bit more action packed or plot-driven, this isn't going to be the book for you. It's really more about the journey, characters, and world than it is focused on plot progression, which worked perfectly!

Overall, I've given The Past is Red five stars! I loved the color and detail found within Valente's writing, as well as all of the messaging about our world and how we care for it that can be found within its pages as well. 

1 comment:

  1. I loved this too! It turned out to be very emotional, which I wasn't expecting.