wilderthan: ((Mitsuru) Angry)
[personal profile] wilderthan
I love Ursula Le Guin's writing a lot. Gifts is a YA book, technically, but it doesn't have to be just for young people. It's a lovely story, like a fairy tale, and it's very easy to read, but that doesn't mean it's not worth reading for people who are older. The main character is a young boy, but the emotions of other characters, like Orrec's father, are there and it's important to understand them and try to identify with them. And Ursula Le Guin's writing is simple and lovely, easy to read but also bewitching. I love her Earthsea books more than I liked Gifts, but Gifts is something different -- no epic quest, mostly just a boy coming to understand himself, and to some extent, his father.

I like the way the chosen blindness is explored. I love reading about blindness in fiction and this is something that's maybe more interesting -- voluntary blindness. I like the character of Gry, perhaps even more so because when Orrec wanders around with his eyes blindfolded, she blindfolds herself for a day to try and understand him. And the friendship between her and Orrec is left to grow quietly -- I don't feel like Le Guin intrudes and forces them together, only that it seems natural when they do get together.

The descriptions of Orrec's mother's death are painfully real. The metaphor of the sandstorm not being able to pick him up and whirl him past that part of the story, and the way he withdraws... Sometimes I felt he was just a little too inactive to be really, really interesting, and I liked Gry for trying to push him out of a it a little, but it's also understandable considering his circumstances.

The end feels abrupt, but then, it ends on a quietly lovely note, and I assume that the next book picks up on at least some of the threads from Gifts. I'm looking forward to finally reading the rest of the trilogy -- I first read Gifts when it was first out, I think, and didn't rush to get hold of Voices and Powers.

As for what the book explores -- since Ursula Le Guin usually seems to have something in mind to explore... it's not as obvious as in some of her books. Family relationships are important, and expectations, and I like the idea that someone else mentioned, that the gifts they have, unmaking or calling animals or whatever, are an analogy for things like engineering and aspects of science that get misused. The fact that the gifts grew out of healing and working with animals, and the way Gry refuses to use hers wrongly, might be another of Ursula Le Guin's lessons. Either way, her 'agenda' is subtle in this book -- you can read it just as a story, if you wish.


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October 2013

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