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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master of Sympathetic Character Development
Since Robert Heinlein's death, I have been looking for anyone who could sustain Heinlein's ability to project the reader into an imagined future and then to build sympathy with the characters. Lethem has the critical ability to establish empathy essentially with his every character, and few do this as easily as he. I have just completed Amnesia Moon, where Lethem tries on...
Published on April 16 2007 by Laurence R. Hunt

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3.0 out of 5 stars A lowcore sci-fi book
i don't knoe exactlt what's the definition for hardcore science fiction book, i guss a hardcore is a book with complex story, ant lot's of unexplained science facts. this story is the inverse of this - the story is very plane - about some pilgrims on a new planet, and there is defently more fiction then science. basicly the book is very easy for read, and is told from the...
Published on Nov. 6 2000 by shawn


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master of Sympathetic Character Development, April 16 2007
By 
Laurence R. Hunt "Laurence Hunt" (Kenora, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Girl in Landscape: A Novel (Paperback)
Since Robert Heinlein's death, I have been looking for anyone who could sustain Heinlein's ability to project the reader into an imagined future and then to build sympathy with the characters. Lethem has the critical ability to establish empathy essentially with his every character, and few do this as easily as he. I have just completed Amnesia Moon, where Lethem tries on empathy with a clock and a potted plant as (metamorphosed) primary characters - and he makes even that work. Therefore, I found Pella, her family and friends, and the alien race in particular (not to mention the planetary ecosystem), to be so sympathetic that it was somewhat wrenching to put the novel down (the same was true of Amnesia Moon, though in that case, the characters were not intended to be quite so sympathetic). The last time I felt this way about a book was reading Heinlein (and in this case, Heinlein's earlier rather than later novels). This is perhaps the only book I have ever read about which I still experience literal pain due to the fact that there was so much more of the story to tell, and it is virtually certain that the sequel (or sequels as I imagined them) will go unwritten. (By the way, I found the analogy to Lolita to stretch credibility. I have read both books, and they are entirely different projects. At the most fundamental level, Lolita was about Humbert Humbert - not really about Lolita at all. This novel is about Pella - more akin to a project such as Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars, but with Lethem's mastery of empathetic character development.) In short, the single best science fiction book I have read since Heinlein.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Lolita on the Homestead..., July 20 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Girl in Landscape: A Novel (Paperback)
I like Lethem or at least the books I have read by him so far: Motherless Brooklyn and Gun, with Occasional Music. However, Girl in Landscape is not just one of Lethem's lesser works but a horrible novel in general. The book fails to solidify, while allegedly a mixture of sci-fi and western, the book is just another western with all the standard clichés in tact. The sci-fi part could be thrown out and no one would be the wiser; substitute Indians for aliens and nothing changes. Also while the back cover of my book mentions "the sexual tension of Lolita" let's not kid ourselves Lethem all but lifts entire passage from Lolita. The book does not capture "the sexual tension of Lolita" rather it paraphrases entire parts (Compare the scene with Pella and Efram on Efram's couch and Humbert Humbert and Lolita on Humbert's couch). People have commented on the originality of this book I just don't see it. After reading about 30 pages of the book one should be able to tell how the book will end and how all the characters will play out. Furthermore, I don't know if it's just me but if this novel is an accurate portrayal of a 13-year-old girl then the human race is doomed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book, Jan. 1 2004
By 
Sarah_Aliza (New England, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Girl in Landscape: A Novel (Paperback)
This book is so interesting and original. Lethem melds the pioneers of the American West and sci-fi with his own brand of storytelling.
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4.0 out of 5 stars interesting book...., Oct. 8 2003
By 
Joe Sherry (Minnesota) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Girl in Landscape: A Novel (Paperback)
I hardly know how to describe this novel. Lethem is a difficult author to categorize, and Girl in Landscape is even dodgier to quite nail down. On the surface it is: a science fiction story, a modern day western set on a strange planet, a coming of age story. The best possible description of this novel is that it is a normal story told on a strange world. It is easy to be distracted by the setting, a strange world that was formed by the Archbuilders, who built up the society and world and then left, leaving only a remnant from their society. The world of the Archbuilders is the new frontier, the new western.
Pella Marsh is thirteen years old. Her mother has recently died and the rest of her family is moving to the planet of the Archbuilders. There are only a handful of other settlers there, people who are there for a variety of reasons. Some express an interest in the Archbuilders, others a xenophobic fear. Upon arrival on the planet, the Marsh family is told that they will have have to take pills to conteract the virus in the atmosphere. The father chooses not to. The virus does not make Pella ill, but rather makes a change so that, as the Archbuilders say, the children can learn from adults.
This is a fascinating story that I hesitate to rank among the best of Lethem. Even though there is a minimalist western feel to the story, it also almost feels like Lethem is trying to do too much, tell such a branching story that something is lost. Don't get me wrong, this is a good book and a good story, but compared to Lethem's best, it falls short.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lethem's fascinating, Oct. 28 2002
By 
"jennykay" (Temple, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Girl in Landscape: A Novel (Paperback)
I don't quite know how to rate Lethem's books. They're not like anything else I've read, but I find them fascinating. "Girl in Landscape" is the story of Pella Marsh, a young girl who's just lost her mother and is trying to learn to be a woman in a VERY strange new world. Lethem always finds an interesting way to look at the English language. In "Motherless Brooklyn", he used a 30-year-old orphan with Tourette's Syndrome as a narrator -- great book, by the way. In this book, he uses the "Archbuilders" - the ones who built the society on this new planet, but have since moved on - to explore the way our words often mean much more (or less) than we intend.
Lethem's not for everyone, but you should try at least one of his genre-busting books, just to see what he can do.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A third rate effort from a first rate author., Jan. 31 2002
By 
David J. Gannon (San Antonio, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Girl in Landscape: A Novel (Paperback)
First let me say that I greatly admire Jonathan Lethem. No one can fault his ambitious and aggressive imagination and creativity. He possesses a truly unique worldview and writing style. He has written some truly wonderful novels--most notably Gun, with Occasional Music and Motherless Brooklyn.
However, all of that notwithstanding, he is also a very frustrating writer in that his body of work is very uneven. There are ideas that no doubt looked quite tempting in the conceptual stage that should have been dumped in the writing phase as it should have been clear it wasn't going to work as a novel. Girl in Landscape is a case in point.
The book is essentially an experiment in a change of context--in this case, a classic "western" set in a sci-fi context; instead of the classic American Western we have the classic Alpha Centuri (or whatever) western. This is not a new conceptual vehicle for Lethem; Gun with Occasional Music also followed this model. However Gun was a focused novel--a detective story first and foremost. Girl, on the other hand, is an unfocused mess. Is it a "coming of age" story or a "displaced" western? Unfortunately, it tries to be both and succeeds in being neither.
Whereas in other Lethem novels the weird tableau of scene and character support and enhance the story, here they seem to take it over. In the end, the scenery is more compelling than the character and story.
I suppose it's a small price to pay--a few unmemorable and disappointing novels one must endure to experience the true joy of Lethem's extraordinary, first rate novels, but I think both reader and author would be better served by a more disciplined approach that sidelined marginal efforts such as this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yet Another Amazing Jonathan Lethem Science Fiction Novel, Nov. 6 2001
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Girl in Landscape: A Novel (Paperback)
Jonathan Lethem's "Girl In Landscape" is yet another spellbinding high wire literary act in which he shows his tremendous gift for prose and creating memorable characters and settings. Here he has written a space opera version of a classic Western (Think John Ford's "The Searchers" meets Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Left Hand of Darkness" and you'll get my point.). Teenage protagonist Pella Marsh must contend with the mysterious world of the Archbuilders while trying to impress tormented loner Efram Nugent. Lethem places his characters in a believable setting quite akin to 19th Century American West. This is the most original twist I've read so far on such time-worn science fiction themes as colonizing other worlds and first contact with alien civilizations.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is a good book, you should read it, Oct. 10 2001
By 
Maki (San Francisco) - See all my reviews
This review is from: GIRL IN LANDSCAPE (Hardcover)
I was very amazed and moved by this book, "Girl in Landscape," where Jonathan Lethem writes about a fourteen-year-old girl named Pella Marsh from Brooklyn, who has to move to a recently discovered planet. Since her mother has died, and she hates her father, she is virtually left alone with no one to talk to besides her two brothers who are way to young to understand her. At the new planet, the struggle and fighting between the humans and the Archbuilders (the original inhabitants of the new planet) shows that human nature itself is corrupt and that humans have a bad habit of leaving out people or "things" that are different. In a way this book reminded me a little of the book "The Lord of the Flies" because of the way Lethem shows human nature as not being so pretty, and because of the violence that goes on in the book. Pella is the kind of person that hates the fighting that goes around her and wants to change it. Her actions are so powerful that it is unbelievable she is only fourteen. She is forced to be strong and mature because of what goes on around her. But it is not just her that is powerful, but also the setting, plot, and characters are all powerful.
This book is really good because Lethem makes the planet and the inhabitants so real. The way he makes up all the setting makes me really surprised that someone can make such a realistic setting out of his or her imagination alone. I also enjoyed the story, because while the book was about science fiction, Pella's life makes it a drama as well. The one thing that I did not enjoy was the fact that the ending was a little bit rough. I did not think that the book should have ended that way, even though others may differ. I thought that the book would have a little more of a nicer conclusion to it. But other than that, I really loved and enjoyed this book. When I read this, it made me feel like reading all Lethem's other books as well. When I finished the book, I knew that I made the right decision to read this book. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a good and powerful book, because it really changed me and sticks with me. I think that this book will amaze anyone who reads it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars don't read my review- read the book, Sept. 15 2001
This review is from: Girl in Landscape: A Novel (Paperback)
I hardly know what appealed to me most about "Girl in Landscape"- what I do know is that when I finished the last page, I wondered if I would ever again feel as powerfully moved by a novel. Lethem's alien world is an exciting, engaging setting. The Archbuilders themselves evoke laughs at some times; at others they seem deeply unknowable and therefore deeply frightening. One of the implications of the novel, however, seems to be that human nature can be infinitely more frightening than alien nature. Indeed, the object of Pella's tormented, adolescent affection, Efram Nugent, is a stormy, violent, iconoclastic man- but that mix is the source of his strange magnetism(who hasn't been drawn to the loner, the wild and untamed in the midst of the mindless herd?). The combination of disgust and attraction Pella holds toward Efram is pulled off convincingly- I was just as disgusted as she by his actions, but Lethem's skill is such that I never questioned her attraction.
"Girl in Landscape" works on many levels- as a frontier tale, a science fiction novel, a coming-of-age story... though like many others I found the ending unsatisfying, the book is well worth reading. I wanted to see the Archbuilder landscape with my own eyes and, in all honesty, to meet Efram, to fully undergo the power of his spell. The book is an exciting, moving read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A lowcore sci-fi book, Nov. 6 2000
This review is from: Girl in Landscape: A Novel (Paperback)
i don't knoe exactlt what's the definition for hardcore science fiction book, i guss a hardcore is a book with complex story, ant lot's of unexplained science facts. this story is the inverse of this - the story is very plane - about some pilgrims on a new planet, and there is defently more fiction then science. basicly the book is very easy for read, and is told from the sight of a growing teen age girl. throught her eyes the story is being told, about her growing up, and the weired population that inhabit the planet. this story is not a thriller, so ther isn't much action, it's more like historic novell, but in the future, i missed the science parts - almost no science in this book, and of course i missed the action, and the thrill. basicly it's a nice story but not a great book.
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Girl in Landscape: A Novel
Girl in Landscape: A Novel by Jonathan Lethem (Paperback - Jan. 26 1999)
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