...or why books and tv rank higher than sleep

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: The Witch of Hebron

This is my very first blog tour, which I am excited about. Thanks again Jen & Lori @ Crazy Book Tours for your patience with this newbie.

Kunstler, James Howard. The Witch of Hebron: A World Made by Hand Novel. Atlantic Monthly Press. Sept 2010. 336pp. ISBN 0802119611


Already a renowned social commentator and a best-selling novelist and nonfiction writer, James Howard Kunstler has recently attained even greater prominence in the global conversation about energy and the environment. In the sequel to his novel, World Made by Hand, Kunstler expands on his vision of a post-oil society with a new novel about an America in which the electricity has flickered off, the Internet is a distant memory, and the government is little more than a rumor. In the tiny hamlet of Union Grove, New York, travel is horse-drawn and farming is back at the center of life. But it’s no pastoral haven. Wars are fought over dwindling resources and illness is a constant presence. Bandits roam the countryside, preying on the weak. And a sinister cult threatens to shatter Union Grove’s fragile stability.

In a book that is both shocking yet eerily convincing, Kunstler seamlessly weaves hot-button issues such as the decline of oil and the perils of climate change into a compelling narrative of violence, religious hysteria, innocence lost, and love found.


Reading has been a chore for me lately. It takes me months to read a book now because the only time I can read for pleasure is on the treadmill at the gym twice a week; a total of maybe 40min a week reading. I read 4-5 hours a day for school. I miss reading for pleasure more than you can possibly imagine.

One of my guilty pleasures are dystopian books, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on The Witch of Hebron. I was concerned because it was a sequel to  World Made by Hand, which I hadn’t read. I don’t like starting midway through a series because I am forever thinking I am missing it out on something. That actually wasn’t the case here, I am pleased to say. Yes, it takes place in the same town and ties up some loose ends, but the central characters and the major plotlines/relationships are all recapped really well here.

In Witch of Hebron, the standout hero character amongst the ensemble is Jasper Copeland. He is the son of a doctor, and at 11 wants to strike out on his own as a doctor. This is completely against the wishes of his parents, who want him to finish school like any other parent. In post-apocalyptical society there is seemingly no need for a formal education, after all there is no government anymore. There are no laws saying he needs to obey his parents, and he needs to stay in school. The reality of a post-apocalyptical world is best experienced through Jasper’s adventures. During the book, Jasper runs away and it is his experiences that truly send the message home that the world is different beyond the obvious reasons. And his medical adventures while on his own that really make the book so chilling for me. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the appendectomy performed in this book was disturbing and so incredibly well researched and written.

My only real complaint about the book was the number of pop culture references. On one hand, they do serve a purpose to make the reader feel as though the book takes places in the not so distant future. On the other hand, I think it will date the book and cause it to lose impact over the years. That said, this is a tremendously impactful book and I can’t wait to read World Made by Hand.

Rating: 4 eyeglasses.


    Why oh why do I go to The Book Barn and buy a bag full of books when I know I can't read them for another 6 weeks? It's one thing to buy a bunch of books and know I have a lot to read all ready, but at least there is the hope one of them will skip to the head of the line because the mood struck me to read that book. It's another thing entirely when I just buy books that have no hope of being read until the semester is over and the review books are completed.

   I do have good news though. I am about to post a review for The Witch of Hebron, and I have only 30 pages left to the latest Snipesville Chroncile: A Different Day, A Different Destiny (of which I will be giving away 2 shiny copies!) So thanks for sticking around - I had no idea just how hard this semester was going to be for me. I am reading other blogs faithfully, even if I don't have time to comment.