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That's What She Read

Y

Y - Bonnie Rozanski Y is one of those novels that has a great premise but suffers through its execution. Unlike similar novels that are redeemed through the writing or its character development, Y has none of those. It is unfortunate because the plot is interesting, and Ms. Rozanski's writing shows promise.The problem centers around the fact that Y never settles into one particular genre and one particular main topic. It tries too hard to be a dystopian, political, sociological, feminist, morality tale cum science fiction. This leaves the reader questioning the main purpose behind the story. What is Ms. Rozanski's ultimate point she is trying to make? Is it that women can run the world just as well as men? Is it that the more things change, the more things stay the same? Without being able to grasp this main detail, the entire novel remains a jumble of ideas and of characters. The plot bounces from one serious discussion to another without affording the reader the opportunity to dwell on the topics and come to his or her own conclusions.Speaking of characters, there are so many characters that character development is severely lacking. The reader never gets to understand more than the very superficial level of reasoning behind a character's actions. As a result, the reader has no vested interest in any of the characters, leaving the reader an impassive witness to their actions and behaviors. This lack of an emotional connection drives one's reactions to the rest of the novel and removes the urgency, despair, and horror behind the events.I have to address the "gender differences" that make up the novel. They are seriously some of the most stereotypically offensive lines I have ever read. I am not certain if this was Ms. Rozanski's point, that she was trying to highlight these so-called physiological and psychological differences as legitimate or as bogus, but I struggled reading a novel that pontificated about the idea that men are more spatial and more logical, while women are ingrained to nurture and support. That being feminine means being emotional and irrational, while being masculine means seeking power through any means necessary. That men and women run businesses very differently, and a women's way will fail in the long run. That there is a man's world and a woman's world and that when forced to reverse roles, nature will find a way to restore the balance back to that natural state as quickly as possible. Even if these ideas were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, there is an earnestness throughout the novel that gives weight to the message, making the stereotypes almost impossible to ignore.Y has such potential that I remain disappointed I could not like it. Who hasn't dreamed up a world where women break through the glass ceiling and take a greater part in society? Isn't that why we continue to fight for equal rights? Yet, I truly did not like this novel. It was predictable and trite, never stopping to seriously address such moral issues as cloning, and, to me, offensive. There is a chance I completely missed the point. Perhaps I was so hung up on the gender differences that I missed what Ms. Rozanski was trying to say. This is a distinct possibility and one that has been whirling around in my brain since I started reading the novel. Unfortunately, based on my interpretation of the novel, Y remains a huge disappointment.