While delivering an entirely new world and also putting forth a powerful treatise on the way we live now, The Book of Joan is one of those dystopian novels that you can’t help thinking might be too eerily real to be just fiction. Where you’ve heard her name before: Lidia Yuknavitch. She’s the author of The Small Backs of Children and The Chronology of Water.
Goodreads synopsis: In the near future, world wars have transformed the earth into a battleground. Fleeing the unending violence and the planet’s now-radioactive surface, humans have regrouped to a mysterious platform known as CIEL, hovering over their erstwhile home. The changed world has turned evolution on its head: the surviving humans have become sexless, hairless pale-white creatures floating in isolation, inscribing stories upon their skin. Out of the ranks of the endless wars rises Jean de Men, a charismatic and bloodthirsty cult leader who turns CIEL into a quasi-corporate police state. A group of rebels unite to dismantle his iron rule—galvanized by the heroic song of Joan, a child-warrior who possesses a mysterious force that lives within her and communes with the earth. When de Men and his armies turn Joan into a martyr, the consequences are astonishing. And no one—not the rebels, Jean de Men, or even Joan herself—can foresee the way her story and unique gift will forge the destiny of an entire world for generations. -Goodreads
Synopsis: In 2013: Sixteen-year-old Alora is having blackouts. Each time she wakes up in a different place with no idea of how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.
In 2146: Seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. The strangest part is that, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs, his father was never assigned to be in that time. Bridger’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent someone’s murder.
And that someone is named Alora.
Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.
Opinion: This is a wonderful slice of escapism through a rabbit-hole or in this case, a worm hole, by someone with the innate ability to self-project or time travel. The book is a delightful read that doesn’t take itself quite so seriously and that’s part of it free-spirited charm. The book plays heavily on the candy-coated theme of “what ifs” of altering aspects of the past to change the future. This was a good read that I plowed through quite quickly and was somewhat surprised by a twist or two hanging inconspicuously like a coat hanger over the exit door. –Elise Grey