Memory of Water: A Novel Paperback – June 10 2014
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- Publisher : Harper Voyager (June 10 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062326155
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062326157
- Item weight : 295 g
- Dimensions : 1.78 x 13.46 x 20.07 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #183,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
“An exceptionally fine debut novel in which all elements come together in a controlled and well-considered manner. At the same time, the novel is fascinating and addictive.” -- Turun Sanomat - Finland newspaper
“Where Itäranta shines is in her rejection of conventional plots and in her understated but compelling characters. The work is a deceptively tranquil examination of a world of dust and ashes where the tenacious weed of hope still survives.” -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The writing is gorgeous and delicate in this dystopian award-winning debut, which is unique in both its setting and the small scale that Finnish author Itäranta employs.” -- Library Journal (starred review) on Memory of Water
“Itäranta’s lyrical style makes this dystopian tale a beautiful exploration of environmental ethics and the power of ritual.” -- Washington Post Book World on MEMORY OF WATER
“[Memory of Water] is simultaneously a coming-of-age story, a fantastic adventure, and a bold warning about a future that is all too real.” -- Portland Book Review on MEMORY OF WATER
From the Back Cover
The award-winning speculative debut novel, now in English for the first time!
In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria's father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander . . . and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line.
Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom.
From the Publisher
At HarperCollins, authors and their work are at the center of everything we do. We are proud to provide our authors with unprecedented editorial excellence, marketing reach, long-standing connections with booksellers, and insight into reader and consumer behavior. Consistently at the forefront of innovation and technological advancement, HarperCollins also uses digital technology to create unique reading experiences and expand the reach of our authors.
HarperCollins was founded by brothers James and John Harper in New York City in 1817 as J. and J. Harper, later Harper & Brothers. In 1987, as Harper & Row, it was acquired by News Corporation. The worldwide book group was formed following News Corporation's 1990 acquisition of the British publisher William Collins & Sons. Founded in 1819, William Collins & Sons published a range of Bibles, atlases, dictionaries, and reissued classics, expanding over the years to include legendary authors such as H. G. Wells, Agatha Christie, J. R. R. Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis.
The house of Mark Twain, the Brontë sisters, Thackeray, Dickens, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, and Margaret Wise Brown, HarperCollins has a long and rich history that reaches back to the early nineteenth century and offers our publishing team a depth of experience.
Top reviews from Canada
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In a world where water is tightly controlled by the military, Noria Kaitio is training as her father’s apprentice to become a tea master. Tea masters historically had a duty to preserve sacred springs, and her family has kept the knowledge of one in the fells behind their house secret for decades. But Noria finds it hard to keep the secret as her best friend Sanja and their village suffer under harsher and harsher conditions.
This is a novel about the importance of water and how people survive under challenging circumstances. It’a a novel that questions motives and wonders who’s trustworthy in a world where helping others will get you killed.
There’s very little action and the story is unravelled slowly. There’s foreshadowing of the ills to come and some gorgeous, lyrical prose. There’s also a lot of contemplative passages, mostly about water, but also about being in the moment, noticing the little things that always escape notice. It’s a novel about thinking deeply about life and appreciating the life you have, because life is always changing and you can never regain what you’ve lost.
Despite the slowness with which the plot unfolds, the novel is a quick read. The characters and the situations they find themselves in are intensely interesting.
It’s a beautiful novel, and sad. And while it contains hope, it acknowledges that sacrifices are required and that not everyone lives to see better days.
I really enjoyed reading it and would recommand it to pretty much everybody. The quality of the writting is perfect and the story seems real.
Reminiscent of Smilla's Sense of Snow, in the lyric quality of the prose, the profound stillness of spaces exterior and internal that is communicated.
Top reviews from other countries
It's also going to be a difficult one to review without spoilers - there are several classic books I'd love to compare it with - favourably - and I can't, because that would give the game away.
In an interim post, I referred to the book as a trap closing. I read the book knowing almost from the start that some key characters were not going to make it to the end. The hints are strong, they are there for the reader to pick up, and if you miss those, you'll miss a lot of the tension.
The novel is set in a future time, post ecological failure, and a lot of technology has been lost, and its incomprehensible remnants are to be found in landfill sites. Here the two protagonists find hints that some of the world might not be so bleak, beyond the borders of a thinly-disguised Chinese hydraulic empire. If you're not familiar with the term - see wikipedia .
Being set in a true hydraulic empire, there is very little chance of internal rebellion succeeding - the very stuff of life is controlled by the elite - only a sufficient alternative supply can power a rebellion. Water crime is punished by death. The novel shows how these two combine to create intolerable pressure on ordinary people to become complicit in acts that they would ordinarily find abhorrent - it is a strength that the characters in the novel are flawed and anguished, rather than entirely virtuous or entirely evil.
Thus the novel builds its tension not through action, but by balancing the need to escape to discover if the lost lands have recovered, and the need for slow, careful preparation, limited also by the slow pace at which information about the lost lands can be uncovered. Against this backdrop, the military steadily increase their oppression of the populace, driving collaboration and betrayal through the need for water. You can see the trap closing, yet you can also see why the protagonists are forced to remain within the jaws 'just a little longer, then we'll flee'.
The slowness of the novel might be a sticking point for some - it took a while for it to become apparent where the novel was going. The novel is quite short, too. It feels like you're almost at the halfway mark before the journey-pattern becomes defined.
Technology thoughts. Perhaps a bit too pat, the way the CDs and the technology to play them get unearthed. The pods - used for sending messages - it took a while for me to understand the rules for pods (how the were used, what they could and could not do).
I've left the best till last. The language and the poetry thereof really lift this out of the commonplace. You can pick your own favourites, but I love the way writers like Bradbury, Zelazny and Simak can build concoctions of mood and image with their word mastery. Emmi Itäranta could hold her head up in such company.
It's not perfect, but it's dam' good and as my thoughts turn to candidates for the SFWA Norton (the "YA Nebula"), this is one I'll push.
But I was disappointed because it was too gentle, not dark enough, a future too close to comfort maybe.
And a lack of water? That is too obvious and going to happen. For speculative fiction, dark and unnerving, I recently read David Edwards Something To Tell You. Using The Higgs Boson particle as the culprit is more exciting than water. And now I also realise I am 99.9% empty space, so I really enjoyed the questions it asked about me, myself.