Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin

Native Tongue
Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin

11. Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin

Genre: Science Fiction, Distopia
Pages: 324
Acquired: 12/30/2010
Book of Your Shelf? No
Why I have/read it: Group Read, TIOLI
Series: Native Tongue (1)

The majority (and important part) of this book takes place about 200 years from now. The world has changed dramatically. Aliens are our trading partners and women have been relegated to the role of perpetual child. All their rights have been removed and they are allowed to do nothing without permission from their male relatives. The Linguists, a group of families that devote their time to the aquisition of new alien languages, are the prime focus of the book, and we learn many fascinating things about the theories behind linguistics throughout.

The group read had so much to say that I find it hard to rate this book. While the characters were for the most part flat and unchanging, I feel that they were written that way for some purpose. There is not a single male character that pulls the sympathy of the reader even a little, and even the females tend to lack the spark to draw the reader to them too closely. There are two notable exeptions to this in Nazareth and Michaela. These two women jumped off the pages for me and held everyone else's place in the story together.

The women of the Linguist families are revolting in quite an odd way. They are creating their own language, a language only for women. Much of the story revolves around the older women of the family collecting the words of the new language together and trying to hide its existence from the men. The big question I came away with was whether or not a language really could change the way of life for the women, or if it was just some way of passing on hope from one generation to the next.

I have added the next book in the series to my wish list, but it may be a little while before I can sit down to read it.


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