Trina FastHorse Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity called The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.
Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seeptech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.
Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina follows a lost boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind. A strange new elegy of love and loss, The Seep explores grief, alienation, and the ache of moving on.Amazon
TLDR: /groan…. It should have been a short story.
Why THIS Book?
I was so excited to read this book. It’s June which means it is Pride Month, yay! and I decided I would review multiple LGBTQ books this month…. and because I love speculative fiction I did a search for LGBTQ speculative fiction online and… this book was suggested to me.
I should have loved this book. Lesbian dealing with alien invasion and mind control issues coupled with thoughts about aging, letting, go, accepting change, and can you be human without struggle? Sign me up!
Tangent time. Have you seen the Star Trek (The Original Series) episode where everyone gets high off spores and decides to live on a farm forever just chilling and Kirk sees this as the ultimate evil and fights against the happy making spores? These spores cured all diseases and made everyone happy. But noooo, says Kirk, if all your needs are met and you aren’t ever sick or in danger, then you aren’t human. Kirk has a hardon for suffering in lots of episodes, but it is especially apparent in this one. (It is called This Side of Paradise and it is one of the best TOS episodes.)
Now, I know this TOS episode was in the late 60s and was supposed to be a warning about how drugs are bad m’kay… but if you really think about it (and I have) I think Kirk was sort of in the wrong here. The former co-host of the MissionLog Podcast Ken Ray is also of this thought and you should totally listen to their episode discussing this episode.
Anyway. I kept thinking about that episode of TV while reading this book. Again we have magic thing X -in this case, aliens who are in the water supply and also everywhere else… it is rather hard to understand and not overly explained- and this Seep loves you and wants you to be happy and will therefore provide all your needs and wants and control your mind but in a nice way etc,
And most people are cool with that. Those that aren’t are in Compounds or in the Seep world but doing small acts of rebellion.
This premise is interesting!
This book… is not.
The setting is futuristic and the bit of world-building we get is cool, but we don’t get nearly enough. The tone of this book is slow and plodding. For the first few chapters I thought it was just a quiet gentle book but no… it is just slow and plodding.
Style and Plot
Again, slow and plodding. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the writing…. there are times when the scenes are wonderfully realized, but ultimately not much happens and one can only enjoy an exponential crisis if we really care about the character going through it.
Again, not much happens. It’s not a spoiler, I don’t think, to say that really the only thing that happens is a character’s mind evolves a bit. Which… ok. But…
Our main character is sympathetic and somewhat interesting but she isn’t given enough space to be fully realized.
There is an awful lot of telling and not showing… and far too many “oh this was like the old days, let’s talk about the old days, another place I used to go to in the old days” and despite the early and often stated premise that the world had moved on and things have dramatically changed, these old places are all still there along with the old faces.
The side characters were… ok… but too much weight was given to the wrong ones. When one character dies toward the end, there is very little emotional weight because we don’t see or feel the main character’s connection and love. We are just old of it… and told of it rather late in the story as well
Back to Entertaining
This book is only 200 pages and it took me forever to read it because it was so boring I kept putting it down and doing chores. Seriously, I cleaned out closets and reorganized cabinets instead of reading this book. I had to literally force myself to finish the last two chapters. (Not being hyperbolic. Our power went out and I had literally NOTHING else to do for a while so after the battery ran out on my phone and my tablet, I gave up and finished it.)
Would I recommend it?
Nope. And that sucks because I want more queer representation in all the genres of literature…. but this book is proof that you can have all the best ingredients and still make a dish that satisfies no one and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
This novel should have been a short story. We forgive a lot of narrative things in short stories… we expect less. Less world building, less character depth, less action… and that in no way diminishes short stories. I happen to love a well-written short story… in fact -shameless plug incoming – my podcast about movies based on books is doing one of the BEST “book to film” adaptations ever tomorrow… Brokeback Mountain: a short story that is amazing in both book and movie form. But I digress.
If the premise of a “fix all your problems” magic plant story sounds appealing, watch the Star Trek episode… and if you want cool queer speculative fiction… well I am currently trying to find some of that myself. Very open to suggestions!
*** ASPECT Method (I created this, I used it, feel free to do the same.)
A Atmosphere: How did it make me feel? What was the world like? This might include the overall tone.
S Style: What was the writing style like? Simplistic or sophisticated? Clunky or beautiful?
P Plot/Pace: Was it engaging? Were there holes? Did it feel too rushed or too long?
E Enjoyment: Was it a chore to finish or compelling enough that I picked it over other fun activities?
C Characters: Were they believable, sympathetic, interesting?
T This? Why did I read *This* book?