Saturday, 17 March 2012

Oh yeah. Another Cannonball Read #12: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

Are you as tired as I am of the ratio of book reviews/running stories on this blog? Sorry, it's not about to get better any time soon.

The sofa has become my prison, handkerchiefs my smuggled cigarettes and oh-so-temporary relief. I'm feeling a little better today, but these health improvements come at such a staggeringly slow speed that by the time I'm healthy, the sun will have swallowed the earth.

Anywho. Book review number 12. Spoilers ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you.

This perfect day by Ira Levin (he who wrote Rosemary's baby and Stepford Wives, among other things) is a quasi-science fiction book written in the late sixties. Taking place in a dystopian future, where moods are regulated by drugs and all decisions are made for you by a computer, Chip is getting anxious to break free. He wants the freedom to make his own choices, to pick whom to marry and where to live. This "sickness" soon comes to the attention of a group of people who also are "sick", who also want to stop taking drugs and live life to the fullest. Together with them at first, and later with just one of them, Chip will indeed leave this life for what he thinks is a better one. Only his dreams are crushed when he finds out that the outside world is not really what he thought it would be.

I wouldn't call myself a science fiction enthusiast, although I have read a few books by Asimov, Dick and others that I really enjoyed. I like science fiction films a lot, especially the ones with dystopian futures. I couldn't get past how this book seemed to lack the science fiction bit, although it is for reasons that I can't put my finger on. It was simply written, lacking the vision and atmosphere that other sci-fi books I've read had. The subject is not original, but that wouldn't have mattered if it had been written in a better way.

The fact that I couldn't feel any sympathy for Chip only made things worse. I couldn't see what his motives were most of the time, other than lust, and there was no personality to speak of. Except when it came to his violent tendencies.

Seriously. "Rape"? You "rape" a woman and, because of that, she suddenly comes to her senses and wants to join you in your rebellion? And then you go and put "rape" in quotation marks as if it's not a real rape your character is committing? I just can't overlook that. I hated Chip and Levin for this. Is that the freedom Levin is advocating for as an alternative to your life being regulated by a computer? Greed, violence, selfishness? Or does he really think humans aren't better than that?

It's not a book I will be reading again, nor one I am recommending to others. The only redeeming thing about it was how quick a read it is.

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