Let it not be said that I don't read with an open mind. There's a lot of talk on Goodreads and in the book blogging community about "hate reading" and whether or not one should do it. Deciding to read Love in the Time of Global Warming might have seemed a questionable choice, because I absolutely loathed with every fiber of my being the first and only Francesca Lia Block book that I read: Weetzie Bat. However, if I didn't risk possibly hating this one and feeling stupid for wasting my time or being deemed a "hate reader," I wouldn't have gotten to experience this amazing book. Even going into a book fearing the worst, there's a chance that you will be unexpectedly swept off your feet, and I've seen this happen to pretty much every blogger I know. So, surprisingly enough to me and to Bekka of Pretty Deadly Reviews who convinced me to read Love in the Time of Global Warming, I kind of loved this book.
My issue with Weetzie Bat was that the book read like I'd been unwilling forced into some sort of drug trip, which is not my thing in the slightest. The book is crazy and the writing annoyed me to no end. Love in the Time of Global Warming is definitely incredibly odd and a little bit crazy, but, for some reason, one I can't really put my finger on except to say that it just sort of comes together perfectly, this one worked for me.
The writing, while still more poetic and off the wall then I generally like, is this lyrical prose that fits perfectly with the story. Block makes excellent use of imagery and achieves a style that hearkens back to Homer's Odyssey while still being totally her own, which I really admire, because it's so tough to achieve.
What I really love about Love in the Time of Global Warming is that it's this genre mash up of awesomeness. Block blends together mythology, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, and magical realism into a book that should come out an incomprehensible mess, and may for some readers, but combined to be this brilliant, strange utterly unique little book for me.
There's this real blend of science fiction/post-apocalyptic with the retelling elements. While some aspects are explained with science, like the giants, others are where the magical realism comes into play, like the lotuses. Personally, I love magical realism and the way that it brought everything together and really made this retelling possible in a world no longer populated by gods and goddesses in our cultural imagination.
In no way is Love in the Time of Global Warming a strict retelling, but Block manages to bring in quite a few of the major plot elements, and they're clearly recognizable. Even better, Block doesn't have the tendency to go on and on in endless descriptions like Homer does. Also, Block takes a story that's very patriarchal, with the only women vile seductresses or waiting at home for their men, and makes it an LGBT love story with a heroine, slyly named Penelope in a nod to the one awesome woman in Homer's work, instead of a hero. All of the main characters have LGBT leanings and they're all messed up, but ultimately likable people with more to them than what initially meets the eye. In some ways, the apocalypse is what frees them to be who they are, because the end of the world really puts life into perspective.
What Left Me Wanting More:
My only reservations are these: one personal and one more analytical. On a personal note, I didn't feel any real emotional connection, this not being so much a character-driven story. In fact, I'm amazed I liked it so much given that I'm such a character-based reader, however the writing and story really resonated and struck the perfect tone. Analytically, there was a little plot line about Pen's parents that I didn't really think was entirely necessary. I didn't remember this from The Odyssey, but apparently another account (as in not written by Homer), explains this little addition. While I can see why she did that, it felt rather out of place since not much really happened with regards to this small twist.
The Final Verdict:
If you appreciate genre-bending novels, particularly those with magical realism, I urge you to give Love in the Time of Global Warming a try. It's a strange, unique book and won't be for everyone, but Francesca Lia Block has woven together something magical here.