My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I pretty much always love a genre-crossover but this one pushed even my limits. Imagine reading World War Z with every 4th or 5th chapter replaced with a chapter from An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure. No offence meant to the legal profession, but even lawyers skip at least some legalese.
Having said that, the story is meant to be told after the fact, and is written from the perspective of a person having thoroughly researched many sources, so of course legal transcripts are going to form a part of that.
But even putting the clashing genres aside, I was pulled out of the story too many times: a segment supposedly occurring in Australia’s Melbourne was entirely American—complete with cowboy hat; an interviewee’s recall of a meeting at least two and a half years ago not only details the exact meals both of them ate but also recalls information about the feral pigeons cruising the cafe (I’m a bird-nerd and even I ain’t gonna be able to remember those details unless it was a particularly life-changing meeting); and odd emotional reactions such as the occasional unwarranted shouting in mid-conversations or an ultra-quick recovery from the murder of a much-loved relative.
And as for one particular unwitnessed murder towards the end, how do we know what they whispered? No-one else was there! Unless the murderer is the writer (which doesn’t match up with what we know) this is all guesswork. And yet the introduction clearly states that ‘other accounts’ are negligent at best, their prose too concerned with the salacious details of irrelevant events (not that I’m accusing said pigeons of being salacious exactly).
Possibly the most annoying of all is that the uprising of the title hasn’t finished, so don’t expect any closure. None. Come on! You can’t have all that build-up and hint-dropping like we never had a chance or many people would point to that day as the last time the human majority felt any sympathy with the Gloaming minority without something actually happening afterwards to look back from.
And yet I couldn’t put the book down. Despite its inconsistencies, A People’s History is compelling reading.
I can imagine it being found a couple of hundred years from now—considering its ‘expert’ feel, would people treat it as truth? Or would our future selves, knowing it be fiction, wonder what else we faked? The holocaust? Vietnam? Trump?
A movie version would lose a lot of that, but at least then I should get my closure!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review