miércoles, 7 de septiembre de 2016

OTW Challenge: THE SILVER METAL LOVER, by Tanith Lee

Read in Kindle

A perfect YA novel avant la lettre. Not my thing.

Published: 1981
Genre: Science Fiction / Futuristic
My Rating: 2 stars

Part of a series: The S.I.L.V.E.R. Series #1

This is a science fiction book, but –again-, I haven’t chosen a book set ‘out of this world’. I have to look more carefully in the next months to find something really Out of This World.

And there’s something worse –this is not even a romance novel.

This is a book that was written in the eighties and it shows. It can be set in a future when an Asteroid has killed one third of the people on Earth, but still, I was seeing a 1980s teenager, dense make-up and shoulder pads included.

It’s told in a first person narrative, something I only find interesting if the character who is telling the story is interesting or funny or clever. But that doesn’t happen here. Jane is 16 years old! I’m not interested in what an imaginary person of that age wants to tell me. No, really. Hearing about her insecurities was very boring, and her feelings about her friends or what she wants to tell her mother but is afraid to do so, or the make-up or the clothes.

This girl is very rich. She lives in a wonderful house in the clouds (literally), with her very brainy and successful mother who has no time for her. Jane feels quite lonely. One day, she finds a new kind of robot on the street. Very human, with a silvery skin, long auburn hair and it plays the guitar and sings wonderfully. She falls in love.

And that’s a problem, as she is a virgin and it’s not very sensible to have her first sexual experience with a robot. She wants to tell her mother, but she can’t. And she wants to acquire it, but she hasn’t got the money and then it’s not so easy because she’s a minor and it looks like the robot has problems. And then she’s all the time talking to herself and crying. Yes, nearly on every page there it is –Jane crying, and all the mascara running away. Please, this is the future! Everybody expects make-up would be perfect in the future.

Water-proof at least.

I was around 20% when I said: ‘I quit’. Being OC as I am that didn’t mean a strict DNF. I read the rest of the book very quickly, one line here, another there, particularly the dialogues, so I get a general idea of how the rest of the story goes.

And it goes the way the Wikipedia describes it:

[Jane] gives up everything she has known for him, and discovers herself. Silver becomes more and more "human" in loving her—a clever illusion created by his programming. Or is it? This unstable society can't afford any evidence that some robots might be indistinguishable from humans. Tragedy is inevitable.

And that’s the worst thing. This is not a romance novel. There is no happy ending as I understand it – the lovers together and alive. I can *spoil* that, I guess, as this book was published for the first time more than thirty years ago.

So why did this book end in my list of romance novels? Well, it got a DIK A review in All About Romance, and the webpage RomanceNovels.Me chose it as one of their ‘thousand best romance novels? (nr. 476) so I got this idea that it was a romance novel.

In the end it sounded like the fantasy of a teenager, how she rejects her life as she knows it in order to mature. She sacrifices nearly everything for the love of the ‘boy’ she loves. And everybody has great sex, too. A bildungsroman they call it, I think.

If you like YA or NA, this could be a good book for you. Those are not my favourite genres, so I did not connect with this story.

Moreover, the Sci-Fi part wasn’t believable for me. I couldn’t see any world-building worth its name. As usual, nobody guessed that something like mobile phones would appear in the future, they still use phone booths. While I was reading, in my mind everybody was dressed as Madonna in those times when she still sang ‘Like a virgin’ in a believable way. This book could be called ‘Desperately Seeking S.I.L.V.E.R.’

No, really. I was there, in the 1980s. I have pictures to prove it. The music was great but although my looks were not as awful as those of some of my friends, the general aesthetics of the time make my teeth grind.

This was going to be a 1-star review, but two things saved it. First, Jane’s ring of ‘friends that are not friends’ -Clovis, Egyptia, Jason and Medea. Sometimes they look and behave like good friends. Other times they don’t. But each of them is clearly developed and a real character.

And then there he is –Clovis, who is gay and is wonderfully portrayed for a book written in 1981. Gay characters were so rare in 1980s commercial fiction! And when they appeared they were very stereotypical, and usually crazy, or depressed, or something awkward and problematic. But here he is an important character, with good things and bad things, just like everybody else. The only character from this book that will stay in my mind.

I didn’t hate this book, it just bored me.

If you want to read the opinions of some people who enjoyed this book, here is a review written by Victoria Strauss in 1999.
From that year is also the DIK A review published by Jennifer Keirans in All About Romance. BTW, Clovis was also her favourite character in this book.
Kristen (Fantasy Cafe) gave this book a 7/10 in 2009.
And last but not least, in 2015, João Eira (Fantasy Literature) wrote a 5-stars review.  
All of them can give you a different idea of this classic book.

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