As I was reading Amatka I kept thinking about Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, which I very much enjoyed. Each work (I consider the entire trilogy to be one thing, because I'm cool like that) is what the kids would call “high concept.”
VanderMeer's work combines a high concept story idea with what can only be described as “writerly writing.” Some people love it (i.e. me), and others not so much.
Tidbeck takes a super high concept idea, what if people went to a strange place where you had to constantly name things to keep them from dissolving, and bolts on a very personal story about a woman trying to adjust to life in a new place, meeting a partner she never thought she could, and questioning the very foundations of her society.
I was doubtful about how long Tidbeck could make her core concept work. There's only so many times I want to read about someone calling a pencil a pencil so it doesn't turn into goop, but she did a masterful job of quickly building this strange little world and populating it with very real, and believable, characters.
Who should read it: People who love high concept worlds populated by very relatable characters.
Would I read it again: I would, which is saying something since I don't normally re-read things. I'm certainly going to be reading her next book (whatever it is!).
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