Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Review: Magic Street (minimal spoilers)

August 9th, 2005

I just finished Orson Scott Card's latest book, Magic Street, today. I'd give it a solid 4 stars out of 5. I defnitely liked the ending more than the beginning. The book didn't draw me in right away, and there were some confusing elements. But as the book progressed, things that seemed incidental in the opening took on new significance, and the book took a firmer and firmer grip on my interest. Definitely worth a read, even if you have to work a little to get past the first five or six chapters.

The story takes its cues from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, though Card elaborates upon and twists the ideas and individuals freely. It is not a retelling of the bard's tale, but takes several of its characters and concepts from it. One of the twists is that the protagonists in Magic Street are black. The story is set in a black neighborhood in L.A., and the good guys are black, and the bad guys are black. Naturally, the good guys aren't always so clearly good, and the bad guys supply their share of surprises as well. Though I'm not black, and so cannot speak from personal experience, the depiction of middle class black culture seemed pretty spot on. The story was powerful, especially as you reach the end. I was pleased by the general avoidance of cliche, and the fresh thinking throughout. The biggest reason that I don't give this five stars is that the opening chapters simply didn't grab and compel me along as the rest of the story did. It's not quite up to the level of Ender's Game, but then, few books are. This one is worth the time to read.


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