Book Review: The Roar and The Whisper, by Emma Clayton

The Roar was my C entry to our reading challenge, and I picked up the second in this duology (The Whisper) immediately after.

Pretty good!

These two books tell the story of a dystopian society following a societal meltdown caused by an animal plague that turned all animals violent towards humanity. The main characters are primary the first children born in 30 years after a wall was built across the northern hemisphere (where the people live) and the southern hemisphere was poisoned to kill all animal life.

A few complaints…

  • Emma Clayton, the author, struggles with perspective. She switches perspective often and typically without a clutch.
  • Plot holes. This book has a good number of plot holes that cause the story to shake and shudder sometimes for ease of reading. There were a few times I just decided to push forward because something just did not make any sense.
  • It starts slow. It took me almost four days to get through the first 100 pages and then two days to finish The Roar and the follow-up novel.
  • The suspension of disbelief is a little hard at some points. The growth of the children and the purpose behind what they are being asked to do is sometimes stretched to the point of incredulity, but… I’ll bite.

My last big complaint is that Clayton obviously writes from a point of view that I don’t agree with her. In her world, the rich are evil who deserve to have what they have earned taken away and spread among the poor. Companies are generally evil and only doing things to serve themselves. The wealthy who manage those companies are the same.

I’m still trying to decide if that’s her personal belief system or just the way the book came across, but it was very easy to come away from the book with those impressions, which isn’t something I agree with.

If I were to offer this book to my children, which I would consider by the way, you can be sure it is one I’d insist we talk about afterward to make sure they understood the reality of wealth and those who have earned it, capitalism, and the role of government.

Last comment–In looking over reviews for The Roar and The Whisper, I saw many make generalized comparisons to Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. Uh… no. Unless the comparison starts and ends with the book being predominately about kids being used by the government, no. Ender’s Game has a rightful place in the pantheon of truly powerful and meaningful literature. It is a book that has stood the test of time and begun to span generations. While The Roar and The Whisper have a place in the realm of good books, I cannot in good faith elevate them to great books.

I would give them a solid 2.5 out of 4 stars. They work, the plot jams up in places, the characters are attractive, and the story line is interesting. Were I teaching junior high English and looking for a book upon which to base a discussion of our current political and social structures, this would be high on the list, but only if we had that discussion.

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