Review of Did You Read The News? by Jack Merwin
The first thing you will notice about Did you Read the News is that it has an approachable learning curve.
The world building is delivered casually, by closely following the main character’s life. The beginning lulled me into a false sense of security since it was peaceful both in the relatable events it depicts and the method of its storytelling. It is well-paced, and possesses a soothing homogeneity. The escapist trappings begin to deepen after several chapters, once the reader learns more about the dystopian setting.
In terms of plot, structure, character, and literary aesthetics, I think a lot of genre literature hinges on engaging the reader’s awareness of the world building. This novel establishes a large scope and provides a deep look at a viable system, just similar enough to real-world situations that we can extrapolate and immerse ourselves into another world.
In my opinion the most compelling part of the book was this relatable world building and the character development. With cinematic aplomb, the author provides contrasting scenes which give the characters room to breathe and act. We follow Antuny, his family, friends, home, school, neighbors, yard work, hunting trips, his run ins and struggles. Many of his personal and intimate conflicts are given equal importance to the larger global problems looming on the horizon. Background information is filled in slowly, along with the budding romance between him and Krasna. The domestic backdrop gives way to a wider expanse of futurism, detailed through a shift in tone and explanation of interplanetary history of the Triumvirate.
Throughout the novel, the imagery remains consistently interesting, whether the narrator dwells on large set pieces or the minutia of every day life, it does effectively convey the texture and rhythm of this alternate world.
As an allegory about societal strife amid foreign conquerers, questionable leaders, pervasive propaganda, and consuming social interaction, I found that it triggered several intriguing lines of thought related to our modern age. The book will stick with you, if you stick with it and engage with the many levels of critique and entertainment it offers.
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