Thursday, July 31, 2008

Book Review: Magic Street by Orson Scott Card

Iv'e always been a big fan of the Ender series’ and every once in a while I dabble into another of Card’s books. My brother Mike gave me this one a while back but I didn’t get to in until now. April and I read this one together as well. Our two-person-book club seems to be off to a good start. As a book club field trip we went around and saw the spots where the events of the book happen. They are all within a few miles of our house and the dogs could always use another walk. I think I liked the book more than April but I can still only give it a mixed review.

First what I liked. I loved the alternate fantasy world of Los Angeles. It was a lot of fun to imagine the terrain that surrounds me as being wild and devoid of all the concrete. I also loved the sense of dread that occasionally carried the narrative. Card is good at horror. His short horror stories are actually pretty scary (something that is very hard to do in print). The first chapter of Magic Street is thoroughly creepy and instantly got me into the story.

My favorite aspect of the story was that of Word. He becomes this sort of faith healer/prophet but is unsure of whether his abilities come from God or from some more sinister source. I would have liked to see this line developed a little more. I wanted to see him struggle more with the corrupting forces of fame and power and really have to dig deep to reject it. I guess I’m starting to drift into what I didn’t like about the book. I wish Card wouldn’t have borrowed so much from Midsummer’s night’s dream. But at least he made sure to explicitly alert the reader to the fact that he was doing this. I also thought that the sex scene seemed a bit contrived and really only existed as a way of advancing the plot. It was just a little out of place and it made me loose attention.

Magic Street was nevertheless a fun read so I give it a mild recommendation. But I may be a bit biased because I live where it takes place.

Most of the events take place in an area called Baldwin Hills. Baldwin Hills is just south of our apartment. It is an affluent, mostly African American, neighborhood that is sometimes called the black Beverly Hills.

Cloverdale in Baldwin Hills

Mack’s house

The drain pipe where Ceese finds Mack

Yolanda’s house

Downtown with Yolanda’s house, the hairpin turn, and the field

Word’s house

See's Candies

Avenue of the Stars Olympic Blvd Overpass

The scene of the last battle in Century City. The building behind the battlefield is in Die Hard.

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