Monday, April 8, 2013

LLF Book Club: World Made By Hand

So fellow readers? What do you think of this story so far? Are you enjoying it or rolling your eyes at what you perceive as sexist or old fashioned? Does it make you think at all about modern politics and the future, or do you think of it as fantastical? Any characters standing out? How about the sex and violence, too much? Let's hear your thoughts so far, please! Comment away!

32 Comments:

Blogger Paul Molnar said...

My only "complaint" about the book were the mystical, fantastical bits. (and there are even more in the second book, The Witch of Hebron) It was because without them, the story felt like it was something that really could happen one day. Conversely, I actually enjoyed the fantasy elements of The Change books because it was clearly a Fantasy story from the beginning.

April 8, 2013 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Paul Molnar said...

My only "complaint" about the book were the mystical, fantastical bits. (and there are even more in the second book, The Witch of Hebron) It was because without them, the story felt like it was something that really could happen one day. Conversely, I actually enjoyed the fantasy elements of The Change books because it was clearly a Fantasy story from the beginning.

April 8, 2013 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Deltaville Jamie said...

I can make an argument for the "mystical" aspect of this book. I haven't yet read the second, so my perspective it from the first one. My guess is that the "Queen" is a psychic. In a world with no way to get news other than word of mouth or travel- no mail, no radio no way to predict weather, etc, I can completely see how a person with psychic ability could be revered. Maybe that stems from my background in paranormal investigation, I don't know. I really loved this book, and I can't wait to read the next one!

April 8, 2013 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Sam Murray said...

Well, I'm only about 18 chapters into the book so far, but after reading the Change series, to me it feels like the didn't quite think through the implications of the changes that took place. For example, how is it that the roads are so rough they rip an axle out of a car, but an iron wheeled foley rig is a preferable alternative to simply riding the horses? I call bull. Also, I don't think that enough importance is placed on food, and how people feed themselves. Some, but not as much as I would expect. Maybe that will come more later?

April 8, 2013 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

I am listening to it on Audible and love it. Lots of things to ponder and it brings up more questions than it answers for me.
For example, several members of my extended family are diabetic. And my annual flu shot. Oh, my flu shot. There is no plan for that.
And, increasingly, though I am very active in my church and always have been, I grow weary of intolerance and other such attitudes. This doesn't change in this universe either.
I love the imagery of Jon.
I have come to the conclusion

April 8, 2013 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

Thanks for recommending this book. I have enjoyed reading it, and it gave me a lot to think about, which is always good. But there just aren't any real women characters. Why is it that so many of the women relate sexually to Robert? (Is he that hot?) And why aren't there any women in the professions--doctor, dentist, druggist, store keeper, farmer, even librarian? (I'm a librarian, I can say that.) Does the author think women would retreat to the home when the @#$% hit the fan? All in all, I liked the book, but I don't think the author knows much about women. JMHO

April 8, 2013 at 7:14 PM  
OpenID mountainchicken said...

If the world as the characters knew it ended in recent memory, then why does everyone revert to speaking in 19th-century antiquated dialect? A nit-picky criticism, sure, but I can't get past it.

April 8, 2013 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger maddie said...

I should probably re-read the book and I haven't read The Change books, so I couldn't compare the two. I seem to remember the author implying that without all the distractions people are becoming more aware of themselves and their natural abilities - thus the "psychic" and I think one of the priests kills a dude without leaving his cell? (which to me was a bit far fetched, but we're used to dull reality no?)You can witness some of these natural abilities - maybe not so much mentally, but definitely physically - in cultures that still live with next to no modern technology. They can smell a certain plant that outsiders say has no scent. Or even the hunting skills are impressive and their reflexes. I still think it's plausible. I also like how it covered multiple possibilities. There's a medieval set up close by, a mad max kind and the thunderdome kind of city, a gang of bikers, people who united under religion and those who are just trying to cope the best they can. I dunno, as with any book there are positives and negatives, fake and realistic.

April 8, 2013 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger Deb Naydan said...

This book took me on a wild ride. I was home sick and finished it in two days. I liked that it was told from Robert's point of view and as the story unfolded it was almost turning into a black comedy. Some of the parts with the biker types really shocked me though. As things progressed I just kept reading faster to see how it was all going to end. I'm now interested in reading the Witch of Hebron next.

April 9, 2013 at 12:34 AM  
Blogger blind irish pirate said...

@ Paul - is there a second? Yikes... part of me wants to read it to see if there is any... point or disclosure of the writing, or to just move on.

This was one of those books where I kept thinking, "Life is too short for bad books." But for whatever reason, I finished it.

Yes, I rolled my eyes SO HARD at some things. The mystical. The sexism.

I agree with Same... not very well thought out, on almost all accounts.

And this book has nothing on the Game of Thrones or the Wheel of Time series. More on that later, eh?

April 9, 2013 at 3:27 AM  
Blogger blind irish pirate said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 9, 2013 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I don't mind the female roles reverting to traditional ones, only because this is the author's world, not mine. If in his characters decided to do that, that the characters choices. Some say it isn't about the characters at all, but the fact that an author would create such a sexist situation in the first place. I say it's his story, just like Misery and The Shining are stephen king's stories. Just because the author writes about characters with flaws or crimes doesn't mean he shares them. I know James personally and he isn't sexist or anti-feminist and I am pretty sure Stephen King hasn't broken anyone's legs or killed people with axes...

So if this is his world, I accept the way it is told as the way it is. I should also point out in the second book the strongest and most self-reliant character in the book is a woman!



April 9, 2013 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I think dialect would change, too. Maybe not like in this book, which is I think 20 years or so since things changed? But I find it happened with me and how I talk. As I moved into farming communities, met locals, and read books on history and listen to audiobooks with different accents my own speech changes all the time. It would certainly morph over 20 years without television, radio, and such. I do think it is a jarring thing at first, how it sounds antiquated but perhaps that is just how this little backwater is?

April 9, 2013 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Does anyone else find the mystical stuff distracting? Until this discussion I never even thought about it! I was just like, "Okay, fancy pychic fat lady! What's next?!"

April 9, 2013 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

pyschic*

April 9, 2013 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Deltaville Jamie said...

I didn't have an issue with the roles of men vs. women. I took it more as people playing to their strengths. Within my family dynamic, I'm the gardener, the one who prepares the food and the one who cares for the animals/children. Others within my group would be better and more knowledgeable about hunting and fishing and woodworking/building. I think there are other women out there- ones who have jobs as law enforcement officers or plumbers or carpenters- who would take on more of that role in a similar situation. It's all about what you're skilled at and how you can contribute the most.

April 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger WillowBrookFarm said...

I loved the book, finished it in a few days, I did think when I got to the physic fat lady "uh oh, I think my book just jumped the shark" but I kept going and still enjoyed it. I didn't care about the roles people played, but I thought that some of the female descriptions sounded like a creepy old guy writing it. And I'm not picking apart how things really would be cause its fiction right? Anyway I'll definitely read more from him

April 9, 2013 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger WillowBrookFarm said...

I was on a Jane Austen kick for awhile, watching all the movies and my husband bought me all of her books. He had to keep telling me to stop talking like that, I hardly noticed I was doing it, lol

April 9, 2013 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger blind irish pirate said...

Jenna, I think that what the author has done is reconstructed a very patriarchal society, something that is debunked time and time again (your story is one that immediately comes to mind in this idea of homesteading) as the world progresses. It's not that his characters are written that way, it's that his world is written that way, so offhandedly stated that "It's the way things are because it's natural." I would say that your argument, that he is not sexist in the same way the King is not a murderer, sure. I doubt that James has shot boys or had multiple affairs. Because those are characters; his environment, the constructing of society, is incredibly regressive. No, he's not sexist, this isn't a personal attack. But the whole scenario is written in a way that makes me side eye the whole deal.

In response to Deltaville James, I just don't think that this is a matter of filling in where you are needed, this story was written such that women, blanket statement, are feeders and breeders. Regardless of what happens in book two.

April 10, 2013 at 3:16 AM  
Blogger Tams said...

I'm torn..I did not enjoy this one as much as The Change series. I didnt find the characters well developed, nor the plot. I really can't form an opinion on the mystical side...again, in this book it's not well developed..and just seems out of place in the story.

I didn't have a problem with the violence or sexual aspects...to me those depicted seemed plausable. I do have a problem with ALL the women in the book being subjegated into traditional positions...and do not see that as plausible at all. Even if the next book focuses on a strong female...only mystics are strong? Hmmmmm

April 10, 2013 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Tams said...

I'm torn..I did not enjoy this one as much as The Change series. I didnt find the characters well developed, nor the plot. I really can't form an opinion on the mystical side...again, in this book it's not well developed..and just seems out of place in the story.

I didn't have a problem with the violence or sexual aspects...to me those depicted seemed plausable. I do have a problem with ALL the women in the book being subjegated into traditional positions...and do not see that as plausible at all. Even if the next book focuses on a strong female...only mystics are strong? Hmmmmm

April 10, 2013 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

I am impressed with all the little details mixed into the story-the descriptions of food and the types of food, the repurposing of items, the explanations of how daily tasks are performed. It's not like one of those books where everyone is running around with guns and brand new combat boots and where everyone seems to have unlimited ammo and canned spam. I like being able to make the mental jump from my life today, typing on this laptop, to having the heat my shower water from the sun and rose hip tea for vitamin C. I can logically see how that would happen, and how we could all adapt to it.

April 10, 2013 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

Brother Jobe and his flock went through such a fast transition to me: from the guy on the road who is just a little too pushy, still friendly, but you still don't want to be there talking to him.
To the group that you see from a distance that seems to have their own little world where things are all together and churning, and you wish that the whole world worked a little more like that. A little creepy, but, hey, they are still friendly, like a bunch of overly jubilant Mennonites.
Then to a bunch of jerks who crash a funeral.
I'm not too concerned about the religious aspect of the story - it just seems to fit that there are some of these groups in hard times. They just seem to be a little bit more than the average religious devout.

April 10, 2013 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Fast Hands said...

I read this book on your recommendation and am glad I did. I also read and enjoyed the sequel. My take away from it is that the world we live in now has provided many more people with a high degree of personal autonomy. In the world made by hand I was struck that many characters chose safety over personal freedom. It also made me think about how the communities in this world had to be much more cooperative to make their society run.

April 11, 2013 at 12:20 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Like Meredith I enjoyed the details of the book, maybe more than the storyline itself. I grew up and currently live near the area in which the story takes place which made reading about the local changes fascinating (maybe slightly horrifying?). This area seems less removed from the "old days" than other places I have lived, so it seems entirely plausible that a determined few could survive by using knowledge about farming, etc. that has not yet been lost here.

I think whenever you read a work of fiction you have to accept that the author has created a world with boundaries and rules that are uniquely his/her own, such as the bit about the roads being torn up but wagons still usable. I was not bothered by the background roles women were given. In my social circle it is the women who knit, sew, garden, etc. (in addition to having professional careers). If the world as we know it ended tomorrow, we would be less concerned with feminism and more concerned with survival; each person would take on the tasks he/she could to sustain life. Certainly if the town doctor had been a woman she would continue to be so after the world changed, but if she was the CEO of a computer based industry who enjoyed basket making on the side, her strength in this new world would be the basket making, right? We also have to remember that the story is told from the perspective of a man who has lived largely apart from a steady female presence for a long time.

I didn't know there was a sequel when I read the book, but knowing that there is makes the rather abrupt ending more understandable. I'm curious to read the next one!

April 11, 2013 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger City Girl said...

I love, love, love this book! It was so much easier to read and so much more engaging that Dies the Fire (did I get that title right?). I liked the relatively slow pace, the community spirit, the lack of violence (at least compared to Dies the Fire), and find it believable. Ya, there's a bit of fantasy elements in it (even moreso in the 2nd book in the series) and, frankly, I'm not sure why the author even felt the need to include that part.

I found Dies the Fire to be over the top and couldn't get into any of the characters. But I am so hoping that there is a 3rd book after the Witch of Hebron.

I find it so interesting that some readers had the exact opposite experience from me. It just goes to show that there is a reader for everything!

Diana
San Francisco

April 11, 2013 at 9:30 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Perhaps I missed it but I kept waiting for the third bullet to show up. As I recall one shot in the dog, one shot in Whatlin and three rounds left in the pistol.

I was surprised that there wasn't a greater use of solar energy.

I found the idea that a preacher and a carpenter would go into Karpville (?) so unassuming - thinking a few pieces of paper and some new titles would carry any weight.

April 12, 2013 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

I actually enjoy the 'going back to traditional rolls' in the book. I think that would be the natural progression of things - living in the 1800s again, in a sense, would dictate that people would fall back into the natural rolls they we in back then. When there was daily survival at stake, I think people would gravitate to what they do best to keep things going. Not to say that there are not women who would excel at hunting or carpentry, or men that would do a great job knitting or basket making.
but I do have to say, I think that since their world has been so drastically changed, the characters find the traditional rolls comforting and they get a sense of security from them.

April 13, 2013 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Martina White said...

I really liked the book. I didn't find the book that violent or sex filled. What was there was purposeful to the plot not for titillation ( pun intended ).

I agree with what some of the others said about the sexism in the story. That women did not seem to be in any leadership roles, except for THE MOTHER, da da dummmm.( ominous music )I know that in my group of friends, most of the people with the skills needed in this kind of scenerio are mainly the womenfolk,lol.

I did go to Kobo and buy the 2nd book as I'm curious to see what happens next. I'm moving 3077 KM next week so I'll need some reading material for the trip anyways :)

April 15, 2013 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Sissy said...

What do you know about JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE? My hometown; I'm just over in the next county now. You know Bristol too? Ah, it IS a small world apparently. Hope you will have time to reply to my questions. Yes the years do fly by, faster than I would wish (72yr. come Sunday)so good for you taking advantage of every moment of your productive years now. You are a go-gettin girl if I ever met one! Reading you makes me wish I could do it all again too.

April 16, 2013 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Sissy said...

What do you know about JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE? My hometown; I'm just over in the next county now. You know Bristol too? Ah, it IS a small world apparently. Hope you will have time to reply to my questions. Yes the years do fly by, faster than I would wish (72yr. come Sunday)so good for you taking advantage of every moment of your productive years now. You are a go-gettin girl if I ever met one! Reading you makes me wish I could do it all again too.

April 16, 2013 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

I finished up the book and I can say that I liked it very much. What I do not understand is what the New Faith's psychic has to do with anything. It just adds another odd dynamic to that whole group - as if they didn't have enough. After all the shenanigans, good deeds, questionable actions and what have you, in the end, I have come to like the New Faith people. The end of the book had events happening so rapidly that it was hard to put it down.
I was a bit surprised by the level of violence and debauchery exhibited at the trailer park town. The way the group was described in earlier sections made them seem pretty bad, but I was not expecting that level of violence.
The ending left us all wondering just what did happen in the jail, and given all the characteristics of New Faith that I learned throughout the book, I was not surprised. Normally that kind of ending in a book would bother me to no end with the lack of an explanation, but I actually though when I read the final chapters "Well, that's New Faith." Taking it 'on faith', pardon the pun.

April 26, 2013 at 5:07 PM  

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