Sunday, April 17, 2016

Barren Cove by Ariel S. Winter: A Sci-Fi Retelling of a Classic Novel

I read Barren Cove in a day, mostly in one evening sitting. From the first line to the last, I loved every page, my brain lighting up in strange and wonderful ways. The story is fresh and original. It is a sci-fi literary novel perfectly written and plotted. The characters distinct, for all their being robots. Yes, robots. And I quickly noted that the story line was a retelling of a 19th c. classic novel. Brilliant!

Sapien rents a beach house to get away from the city and for an opportunity to contemplate. Younger robots had chosen to deactivate. What was he hanging on for? One of the last human-built robots, Sapien lives in a world where robots reproduce 'children' and human life no longer holds any value.

When Sapien decides to visit the beach house owner, a human named Beachstone, he encounters a beautiful female robot name Mary and her distorted brother, Kent. There is a 21st c. gardener robot named Kapec and the house computer Dean. A young robot Clarke has a wild and cruel streak. Sapien is drawn into the family mystery when Dean tells him their history, how Asimov 3000 raised a human child with his children Mary and Kent, alienating his son, and the violent family war that ensued. Sapien does not find the answers he was seeking, but he finds clarity.

I would love to deconstruct the novel but I won't take the fun away from you. But I will say this is an amazing retelling of Wuthering Heights.

I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Barren Cove
Ariel S. Winter
Atria Books
Publication April 26, 2016
$25 hard cover

From the publisher:

Los Angeles Times Book Prize nominee Ariel S. Winter explores the secret legacy of an enigmatic family in this thrillingly atmospheric novel with a compelling and unexpected twist.

Sapien is a relic of a bygone age, searching for meaning in a world where his outdated allegiances to a time long past have left him isolated and hopeless. Seeking peace and quiet, he retires to a beach house at Barren Cove, a stately Victorian manor even more antiquated than he.

He becomes increasingly fascinated with the family whose lives are entwined with the home—angry and rebellious Clark; flamboyant Kent; fragile, beautiful Mary; and most of all, Beachstone, the mysterious man whose history may hold all the answers Sapien has been searching for. As Sapien unlocks their secret loves and betrayals, the dangerous past of Barren Cove will indelibly change him...and who he is fated to become.

A brilliantly imaginative and poignant tale in the tradition of Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman, Barren Cove is a luminous and surprising exploration of legacy, loss, and humanity itself.

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