Tuesday, August 25, 2020

"Rook di Goo" by Jenni Sauer

Do you like stories that revolve around "found families" at all?  That's one of my favorite storytelling devices, or themes, or what have you.  And Rook di Goo has one.  A delightful found family that the main character stumbles into and is embraced by.  Eventually.

Cadet Elisandra Elis has deserted.  She's run from her military duties, overwhelmed by things she's done under orders.  Haunted by them, even.  She winds up on a rustbucket of a ship captained by someone more important than he seems, and together with her new friends/family, she ends up saving a lot of lives.

And, it's a Cinderella retelling, too.  Plus, one of the best explorations of anxiety and PTSD I've read.  No easy fixes or platitudes or "just think happy thoughts" nonsense here, but instead the sensitive and realistic treatment of what it's like to live with a mind broken around the edges.  Astonishingly good, really.

You probably have gathered that I don't read a lot of sci-fi. I like to watch sci-fi, you understand.  But I don't read it much.  And that's for the same reason that I generally prefer to watch fantasy rather than read it.  I don't like description-heavy writing.  I don't like long passages about what worlds look like or how magic or tech words, or explanations of political and monetary systems.  Worldbuilding doesn't interest me greatly, so when I can just see things on a screen instead of having to read about them, I'm happier.

BUT.  I do like some sci-fi, just like I enjoy some fantasy.  And I enjoy them for the same reason I enjoy other books -- if they have characters I care about.  And if a sci-fi or fantasy book can give me characters I love and show me their world through the eyes of those characters instead of just telling me about them, then I will very likely dig that book.

And Rook di Goo does exactly that.  It first gives me a handful of characters to care about, then slowly unfolds the world they live in by showing it to me through their eyes and as they interact with it.  I dug it so much.

(Mine from Instagram)

Particularly Good Bits:

She wasn't sure if she should be flattered or annoyed that he seemed to think she always had some sort of master plan in her head.  She usually did, if she was being honest, but they took work to come up with, and the assumption made her feel a little taken for granted (p. 99).

"Surrender is not the same as compliance," the man said, crossing his arms and looking sullen (p. 118).

If you couldn't feel at home where you always had, then were was home supposed to be? (p. 216)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: a soft PG-13 for violence.  No cussing, no racy scenes, and no gore, but quite a lot of remembered violence and some in-story too, including violence that results in the death of children.

This is my 31st book read for #TheUnreadShelfProject2020.


  1. I want to read this! I'm always looking for realistic anxiety representation!!

    1. Katie, I would love to hear what you think of it, as I've never had to deal with anxiety.

    2. By which I mean that I'd like to know if YOU think it's realistic, as it seems that way to me, but I'm not a great judge of it.

    3. I will try to read it very soon and give you my thoughts :D I'm curious now!

      I've had an anxiety disorder pretty much my whole life, and it's very comforting to see it represented well in fiction ... but it seems like overall, across the board, authors are LESS interested in exploring anxiety than depression? Like depression is treated more as a "real," serious mental disorder and anxiety gets more dismissed as "oh you're just a worrywort." So I'm always on the lookout for stories that do treat it seriously.

    4. El has anxiety triggered by her wartime experiences for the most part, is how I saw it -- not depression, certainly. And also some trauma-induced stress and so on.

  2. This sounds really good, great review Hamlette!

    1. Thanks, Grace! It's a very enjoyable book, for sure :-)

  3. I'm always up for retellings, and I hadn't heard of this one, but you've caught my interest!

    1. MC, this is a good one! The Cinderella-ness is not super-obvious until toward the end, just fyi.


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